They’re too sassy for their own good, what with the spines and the furry bits and the stalks and all kinds of entrapments designed to prevent you from enjoying the tender deliciousness that lies at their core. But NO LONGER should you let them sass you. Follow these steps to take control of the situation and show artichokes what’s what.
Before you do anything, squeeze half a lemon into a bowl of water.
You’ll submerge your prepped artichokes in here, and the acid will keep them from blackening. (Save the other half of the lemon — it’ll come in handy soon.)
Using a sharp knife, slice off the top third of the artichoke.
This will be kind of hard, and it will feel like you’re failing. You’re not.
A serrated knife helps, but anything sharp will do.
Peel off the thickest outer leaves around the base.
But not too many — stop when it looks like this.
You’ll also want to snip off those thorny tips. They will poke you.
Next, slice or snap off the woodiest part of the stem (like you would an asparagus).
Then, using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel away the tough outer layers of the stem.
Now rub all of the cut areas with lemon juice.
If you don’t, they’ll turn black and you’ll be sad.
Get up in here, too.
Now it’s time to take out the choke.
The choke is the hairy, pointy-looking bit inside the heart. You can take it out now OR after cooking, if you’d rather. And if you’re using cute little baby artichokes, don’t even worry about the choke — you get to skip this step.
If you’re in a hurry, just slice the whole thing in half.
(It will steam faster this way.)
Once it’s halved, scoop out the choke with the end of a spoon.
It will look like this.
Now you’re ready to steam the artichokes, peel off the leaves, and dip them in melted butter or aioli.
YUM. Here’s how.
But if you’re planning to braise, fry, or stew your artichokes whole, don’t stop yet.
You’ll need to remove all the tough, dark green leaves, too. Keep pulling leaves till you get down to the supple, lighter colored ones, and pare away any tough spots from the stem.
Keep your trimmed artichokes in your bowl of lemon-water until you’re ready to cook them.
One option you might want to consider: Fry ’em up.