So, we finally tackled it yesterday.
We cooked up some artichokes. There were big HONKING artichokes on sale here at our local Sprouts store. I could not walk away from them.
And let me tell you, I have an ENTIRE new respect for each bowl of spinach artichoke dip I may order for the rest of my life. I can only imagine what it took to get those darling little chopped artichoke hearts that reside therein masked in all their creamy goodness. I will always picture an assembly line of poor sweating folks, peeling away the layers to get enough artichoke hearts to make one recipe.
It’s a little bit of a tedious process to prepare them. I know somewhere there is a magical artichoke “hearting” machine that simplifies the maddening technique of clipping, chopping, peeling and paring but we wanted to be old-fashioned and just learn the good ol’ hard way.
So we did, and forty minutes later we had three beautifully steamed artichokes that we started snacking on.
Mr. Wonderful: “That’s it? That little bit on the leaves?”
Me: “Well, until you get to the heart, yes”.
There was a prolonged absence until we peeled 58 leaves, dipped them into Sriracha-infused mayonnaise, (which incidentally probably completely did away with the health aspect of artichokes), but was INCREDIBLY good.
Oh wait, you COULD opt to use melted garlic butter, but then again….the health benefits?(Then we pulled away another 27 tiny worthless leaves, peeled out the choke and finally got to the heart.)
Mr. Wonderful: “Well, that was a fun experience. Not sure if I’d buy one to do it again”.
(Don’t tell him, but I WOULD.)
So, let me show you what we learned.
Take your artichoke and give it a good rinse. Then if any of the leaves have sharp point ends with thorns, you can snip them away.
It just looks pretty that way too. But honestly, if I ate these all the time, (which could most certainly become a habit), I think you could totally skip this part.
Once you get your leaves trimmed, use a sharp hefty chef knife to chop about one inch off the ends.
Also, cut the stem down to about an inch. If you desire to be waste-less, you can even eat it, but we decided we didn’t want to go that far. It’s a bit bitter. But if YOU do, peel off any leaves and then using your peeler, peel off a bit off the top layer of it. It will make it a bit more tender.
Take a pot large enough to fit all your artichokes in and insert a steamer basket in it. (I got this one for a couple dollars at my local TJ Maxx store I think).
Add a cup or so of water so that the water doesn’t touch the artichokes, but so they are suspended on the basketover it.
Place your artichokes in the pot on the steamer basket. IF you like you can add in some lemon slices or a sprig of your favorite herb under the basket as well for flavor.
Pop on the lid.
Crank up the heat on a burner on your stove and put the pot on it. When you see that the water is boiling and the steam is going good inside the pot, turn it down to about medium heat. Let it go for 30 minutes making sure your water doesn’t completely steam out.
When it’s done, your artichokes will have changed to a more avocado’ish green color.
And here is how you eat them.
Peel off one leaf. Dip it in a ramekin of mayonnaise.
But only the little part on the end with some meat on it.
Using our top or bottom teeth, we scraped that little meaty end of the leaf with our teeth. This got us a tiny bite of artichoke and mayo. Mmmmm. (You can also choose to use melted or very soft butter and add minced garlic or garlic powder for extra goodness).
We got a little bored with the plain mayo and added in a little drizzle of srirachi and mixed it up.
You can also add lemon zest or chopped herbs to make your mayo more interesting.
We kept going until our leaves become very soft and tender and small.
We decided these weren’t worth trying to get any meat off of them and just pulled them out.
Then, we stared curiously at this fuzzy mushroom shaped thing.
Instructions told us to take a spoon and using the flat side of the spoon (instead of the pointy end), gently go around the fuzzy side (opposite the stem) and scrape out the fuzzy cottony threads that filled the top of it. Oh yes, these fuzzy threads are called “the choke”.
No idea why, but I supposed if you ate them you would most certainly choke.
Once they are all cleaned out, guess what?
This is the “heart” of the artichoke.
And this is the part that is chopped up in that famous dip that you get, or put on pizza, or in salads or pasta.
And let me tell you that after all that, I am DARN glad that there are nice frozen bags of artichoke hearts available to me at my grocery store.
And you can cut it up and dip it in something yummy as well.
But we just used the stem…because it needed to be good for something right?
And we checked this “how to” off of our list.