Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: The secrets to the artichoke's heart.
Like all things beautiful and rare, artichokes -- the greenmarket's thorny belles -- are tough to crack. To get to their heart requires patience and fearlessness -- but it's not all that hard.
We're here to show you how to get to the artichoke's heart, whether you plan to eat them with your hands -- dunking in butter or aioli as you go -- or cook and eat all that's edible, fork-and-knife style.
Either way you go, the first thing to do is squeeze some lemon juice into a bowl of water. This will be where you put your prepped artichokes; the acid will keep them from blackening.
Using a sharp knife, slice off the top third of the artichoke.
Peel off the thickest outer leaves.
You'll also want to snip off those thorny tips so you don't poke yourself.
Slice or snap off the woodiest part of the stem (like you would an asparagus), and then, using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel away the tough outer layers of the stem.
Rub the cut end and stem of your artichoke with your lemon while you're working; you don't want your masterpiece to go to the dark side.
The Choke Removal (If you're using baby artichokes, you can skip this step.)
Now, it's all about how you want to present it. You can either scoop out the choke (the hairy, sharp-looking bit inside the heart) now or remove it after cooking...
...or you can slice the whole thing in half to remove the choke (it will steam faster this way).
Now, you're ready to steam, pluck, and dunk at will.
This is all well and good if you want to eat with your hands, but for fancier dishes with whole braised, fried, or stewed artichokes you'd eat with a fork and knife, you can't stop there. You'll need to remove all the tough, dark green leaves, too.
Keep pulling leaves till you get down to the supple, lighter colored ones, and pare away any tough spots from the stem.
And you're done! Keep your trimmed artichokes in your bowl of lemon-water until you're ready to cook them.
Ready to use them? Try:
Photos by James Ransom