The time has come the walrus said, to talk of many things, of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of artichokes and kings... OK, so I may have tweaked Lewis Carroll a wee bit there...but you get my meaning! It's artichoke season! Hurrah! So I thought I'd show you folk how to prepare fresh artichokes, because I know for a fact most people wouldn't have a clue what to do with them. If you are lucky enough to be able to grow your own, this is a highly cheap meal, if not, grab them while they are nice and cheap at the grocer...cheapest I've ever seen was $1.00 each. If you have the room, they make a lovely border and the silver green fronds are very hardy through winter, and are so pretty in their own right I must commend them to you. But I'm getting distracting talking of the virtues of artichokes. Let's get down to business...
You must work quickly with artichokes, as they brown quickly. If you are doing a bundle of them, I suggest keeping a large pot with water and a splash of lemon juice beside you so that as you cut, you dunk them until you're ready to cook. First off, cut the top part off to remove all the spiky ends.
Then turn it over, and cut the bottom off. If you are preparing them for stuffing, you will need the bottom nice and flat, as you can see below.
Next, fill a saucepan with water about two inched high. You want to steam rather than boil them, as you can see below.
Put the lid on the saucepan, and once the water boils, turn down to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Drain, and run cold water over them, and then allow to cool.
Once cool, gently prise apart the petals, the inner part which is soft and delicate flesh is fine to eat as is. Gently prise this out, as you can use it back in the stuffed artichokes later.
Any petals with a thorn on the end, as you can see above, trim. Last thing you want is your dinner date to choke on one of these!
If you are preparing the artichoke hearts for marinating, and dig deeper into the flower, discard this hairy bit, this is the "choke," and is NOT edible!
Underneath is the heart, which is absolutely divine marinated, but this will be for another post!