Spring is definitely here. And after the appearance of the first strawberries, it is never long until tables are piled high with fresh artichokes varying in size and colour. This week I just happened to come home with about 20 of them. The obvious question is, what do you do with a suitcase full of artichokes? How do you prepare these spiky cousins of the thistle for general consumption? The process is fairly simple, but takes a bit of time and is rather messy. I have taken some photos of the process to make it easy to replicate with your own mountain.
Step 1: Prepare the acidified water. Once you remove the outer leaves, the artichokes will oxidize fairly quickly. Soaking them in a lemon water bath will keep them from discolouring. Just squeeze a lemon in a basin of water and that’s it.
Step 2: Remove the outer leaves. Remove the outer leaves by hand until you reveal the lighter coloured inner leaves.
Step 3: Cut off the top: Using a sharp knife remove the top third of the artichoke head to expose the choke.
Step 4: Peel the stem. Using a peeler, peel the tough outer layer off the stem and base of artichoke.
Step 5: Place the peeled head into your lemon bath.
Step 6: Repeat until all of your artichokes are peeled and in the lemon water. Add more lemon as needed.
Step 7: Braise the artichokes until tender: The next step is to braise the artichokes until the flesh is soft and the fuzzy inner choke is easy to remove.
- Dice a tomato, carrot, red onion, green onion, and a couple of cloves of garlic and sauté in a stock pot with a little oil until the onion is soft.
- Pack the artichokes tightly stem up in the pot, layering if needed. Add enough white wine and/or chicken stock to cover the artichokes and braise for about an hour over low heat.
Step 8: Remove the outer leaves and choke. After the artichokes have finished braising, remove them from your pot and let cool. At this point the leaves will almost fall off by themselves. Remove the leaves, and with a spoon gently remove the choke, being careful not to lose any of the heart of the artichoke. Do not discard the braising liquid, you can use it to create a really nice artichoke risotto. (recipe forthcoming) The artichokes are now ready to use in any particular dish of your choice. I used half of them in my risotto and the other half I froze for later.
Now that you have a whole batch of prepared artichokes at your disposal, have fun and be creative.