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How to: Trim an artichoke

Posted by Jeanne on October 14, 2009

I love artichokes.  Seriously, love them.  But they are a bitch to deal with.

I learned to trim artichokes from Alton Brown and Julia Child, with a little bit of good old-fashioned Lazy thrown in.

This is an artichoke.  Whoever first ate one of these must have been starving.  The leaves are basically inedible – tough and stringy.  They are also topped with spiky points, so basically you’re disarming the artichoke as you prep it for cooking.

Here’s what you do – cut the top off with a serrated knife (I use a bread knife):


Then, snip off the pointy part of the remaining leaves with some sharp scissors:


Cut the tip off the stem, and peel it carefully with a knife (you can’t really get a vegetable peeler in there).  The stem, while not as good as the heart, is still really tasty.  Once peeled, place in a bowl of water with half a lemon squeezed into it – like apples, artichokes will brown if exposed to air.

Boil the artichokes approximately 30 minutes, or until the stems are very tender.  I put a bowl in the top of the pot to keep them submerged in the water.  It looks like this:


So, silly.  But I swear it works.  (Also, those are not artichokes in there.  Those are pickles, which are for another post entirely.)

Drain the artichokes upside down until they are cool enough to handle.  This is when good old-fashioned Lazy comes in – Julia Child suggests that you can clean the choke (the spiny, yucky part of an artichoke that sits on top of the artichoke heart) by doing the following:

1. Open the artichoke;

2. Remove the little purple leaves;

3. Scooping out the choke while leaving the rest of it intact; and

4. Returning the little purple leaves to the artichoke.

But I will be hell and gone from this earth before I do that.  So instead, I slice them in half, straight through the center of the stem, and remove the choke with a spoon.


You end up with two halves of an artichoke that look like the ones on these plates:


If you want to get fancy, you can fill them with sauce, like little artichoke boats.  Or you can be Super Klassy like us and put the lemon butter in a coffee cup and let everyone share it.

It’s really up to you.


2 Responses to “How to: Trim an artichoke”

  1. der schatten said

    Excellent…I’ve always been afraid of artichokes. BTW: Added you to the blog roll, I think the freaks need to appreciate good cooking too 🙂

  2. […] But god, they are a pain to deal with.  Why must so many delicious things be encased in ridiculousness, like the artichoke? […]

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