|Preparing an Artichoke Heart|
|Facts on Artichokes|
|Trimming a Whole Artichoke|
|Perfect Steamed Artichokes|
Cut off the stem at the base of the artichoke. Remove the outer leaves from the artichoke b y pulling them down so that they snap off.
On a work surface, using a large sharp knife, cut the artichoke crosswise to remove the remaining leaves, leaving about a 1 inch base.
Using a small paring knife, trim the green leaf stubs from the bottom of the heart. Then trim the dark green leaf stubs from the top.
Using a melon baller or teaspoon, remove the hairy choke from the artichoke bottom. Immediately transfer to a bowl of acidulated water.
~ How They Grow: There are three sizes of globe artichokes, all of which grow on the same stalk. The largest ones weigh about 10 ounces, ripen at the top of the plant, and are the first to be harvested.
They are frequently stuffed or served with dipping sauces. Medium artichokes, about 7 ounces. tend to be ready a week after the large ones and are good for sauts; they often have pointy leaves. Baby artichokes grow where the leaf meets the stalk and ripen last. They are picked at their mature size and usually don't contain chokes.
~ Picking the Right Ones: Choose firm, bright green artichokes with tightly packed leaves; avoid any with withered, opened leaves, which indicate that the artichoke is old. Check the base of the plant for brown spots that might signal decay.
~ Avoiding Discoloration: Artichoke flesh discolors after exposure to air, so be sure to rub it with lemon soon after cutting. Drop artichoke hearts into acidulated water when you finish preparing them; they can be stored overnight in the water. Use stainless steel or other nonreactive knives and cooking utensils to cut, pare, and cook the artichokes; cast-iron or aluminum will turn the artichokes black.
Using a large sharp knife, cut off the stem at the base of the artichoke. Then trim about 1 inch from the top of the leaves.
Using kitchen scissors, trim about inch from the lower leaves of the artichoke. Rub the cut edges with a halved lemon.
The ideal way to cook whole artichokes is to stem them upside down so that the hearts aren't exposed to direct heat; this will prevent them from overcooking. Also, since excess water won't get trapped in the leaves, the artichokes will not need to be drained after cooking.
Start by trimming the artichokes. In a steamer basket, arrange the artichokes tops down. Cover and steam over about 2 inches of simmering water until the leaves can be easily pulled out, about 40 minutes for large artichokes. Let cool slightly. Spread the artichoke leaves open and pull out the center cone of small, pale leaves. Using a melon baller or teaspoon, scrape out the hairy chokes. Serve the artichokes with a sauce of your choice, simple melted butter, or stuff them.
Food and Wine April 1995
Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 04-18-95
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