I think artichokes are beautiful, especially the purple ones. Although I used to be disappointed about how much of the artichoke you discard in preparation, I have come to also appreciate how beautiful they are when prepared. A few weeks ago, I prepared two, halved them, parboiled and then pan fried them to serve with a piece of crisp skinned ocean trout. It was wonderful. The pattern the leaves make is wonderful, either as you look at it from above, or if you’ve cut it in half. I used to be pretty scared of artichokes though, because of the preparation involved, but it’s totally worth it, so I thought I’d write this post, about preparing artichokes.
Choose dense, heavy artichokes. The larger and less dense they are, the more likely they will be to have a tough and hairy choke.
Slice off the stem and peel off the outside skin of the stem. I like to eat this middle part of the stem.
Break off the tough outer leaves of the artichoke. Don’t be afraid to go hard at this stage. I used to want to make sure I wasn’t discarding anything unnecessarily. But it’s not pleasant to bite into the fibrous leaves of an artichoke.
Using a paring knife, remove the fibrous remnants of those leaves from the bottom of the artichoke heart.
Cut off the top of the artichoke leaves, discarding the tough tips, leaving the tender base of the leaves attached to the heart.
If it contains a hairy choke, use a teaspoon to scrape out the prickly, fibrous centre.
Place the artichoke in a container of water with some lemon juice to stop it browning.