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The Art of the Artichoke

Christine Drinan, Founder

For such a complicated-looking vegetable, it’s really not that hard to make artichokes that will rock your world. One of the many good attributes of the artichoke — besides the fact it tastes damn good — is that it’s healthy. This is your guide on how to cook artichokes, the new addition to your cooking repertoire.


Prep the Artichoke

The prep of the artichoke is the foundation of how to cook it. This step involves a sharp serrated knife, kitchen scissors, and a lemon, along with the confidence that you got this. The latter was the key for me; even as a decent home cook, I thought artichokes were a bit intimidating. It wasn’t until I went to ZouZou’s, a Mediterranean restaurant in NYC, that I realized cooking artichokes was simpler than I thought. The key during the prep is to cut the artichoke in half, then take out all the inedible insides. One I got that step down, things were cake.

Cook the Artichoke

I recently invested in a green line of cookware that takes the variability out of cooking artichokes. First, there’s no non-toxic chemical coating on the pan. Second, the right pan transitions from steaming to frying seamlessly. The total cooking time is about 30 minutes, but you don’t have to babysit artichokes like you do risotto. Just make sure to check your water level when you’re steaming, which is further outlined below.

Eating the Artichoke

It surprises me that many of my friends haven’t ever eaten an artichoke that was’t canned. I clearly am not the only one who couldn’t unlock the secret of how to cook artichokes, so I found that most of my friends just skipped it on the menu. How you eat this artichoke dish depends on how big your artichokes are. If you use large ones for this, you’ll eat it the traditional French way and take a leaf then scrape the artichoke meat with your lower teeth. The leaf is then discarded, as it’s not edible. If you use baby artichokes and deep fry the neck out of them, these leaves can be edible. I personally don’t like to deep fry at home, so I go the traditional French way.

Ingredients

Serves 4

5 large artichokes, or 20 small artichokes
1 medium Meyer lemon
3/4 cup water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
Olive oil
1/2 Blood orange
Edible flowers for garnish

Directions

Clean Your Artichokes

Prepping your artichoke involves cutting off the thorns and the fuzzies of your artichoke heart, neither of which are edible. You will literally scratch up your throat, so trust me on this and discard the waste.

Wash your artichokes well and thoroughly dry them. With your kitchen scissors, cut the sharp spines off the ends of each artichoke leaf. Don’t cut too deep though, as you’ll sacrifice the meat/edible part of the artichokes. As you get to the top of the artichoke, you can use your serrated knife to cut the sharp spines off the ends.

Next, with your knife, cut the artichoke in half. Cut just the ends off the stem. Inside you’ll see the fuzzy choke and the purple leaves. With your serrated knife, cut these out completely, but be careful not to cut the edible heart. The heart is the most-prized part of the artichoke. Immediately give the artichoke a squeeze of lemon so that the heart doesn’t brown/oxidize as you finish your prep.

Steam the Artichoke

In your skillet, bring the water to a low boil and dissolve the bouillon cubes. Add the artichokes face down, and steam on medium to medium low for about 25 minutes while covered. Make sure to check the water level periodically to make sure you still have enough water. Add more water if necessary.

Fry the Artichoke

One your artichoke is soft and ready to eat as is, it’s time to fry it. Add about 3–4 tablespoons of olive oil if you’re planning to brown the artichoke. Note that at this stage, cooking large artichokes differs from cooking small ones. For large artichokes, this is the browning step; it will give a little crisp and savory indulgence to your artichoke. For small artichokes, this is the step that will make them almost fully edible. If you’re going to make small artichokes, you’ll need a high heat-point oil, like a sunflower or canola. Olive oil will burn in this case. You’ll also need about three inches of oil to get your small artichokes fully fried.

For large artichokes, brown them for about four minutes, face side down first over medium heat. Flip and cook for another three minutes. Either way you cook your small or large artichokes, squeeze some blood orange on top and save some slices to garnish your dish. Add a dash of Maldon sea salt and serve immediately.

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