Nom, nom, nom.
Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you! I was too busy attacking the artichokes!
These artichokes weren’t always so delicious. In fact, at one point, they were actually practically attacking me.
Don’t let this pile of beautiful, green artichokes fool you. They may look benign, but these little guys are as sharp and prickly as a pack of porcupines.
He looks fairly innocent, right?
Look closer. You’ll see that he’s ready to bite.
No worries, though. For those of you who may not have done it before, I’ll show you how to de-prickle these little beasts—and remove the dangerous choke—and turn them into the succulent braised artichokes that you know and love.
Once they’re cleaned, they’re really easy to deal with. That’s all the choke down there…nasty business if you leave that in and try to serve it.
This dish take about 50 minutes to cook, so start them about an hour before you plan on serving dinner.
4 large artichokes
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
ground white pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, halved
Serves 4-6, depending on if folks share
Clean and prep the artichokes
Grab your artichokes. Give them a quick rinse and dry them off well.
If you know how to do this, skip on ahead. If you’ve never cleaned an artichoke before, read on for a detailed guide on how to deal with them.
Repeat until you’ve completely disarmed the little bugger.
Once you’ve removed the barbs, hold the artichoke firmly and cut off the top inch or so. I find that this is easiest to do with a serrated bread knife.
See those purple-y leaves in there? That’s the choke, hiding.
Finally, saw off the stem, right at the base of the artichoke.
Try to cut it so it’s fairly level, so he’ll sit up straight in the pan.
Remove the choke
You’re not quite done cleaning your artichoke yet. You need to remove the choke. With your fingers, separate the leaves so you can see the center of the artichoke.
The choke is surrounded by those purple tipped leaves that look more like endive than artichoke.
Dig this whole mess out with a spoon (or a melon baller or grapefruit spoon). I do this by jabbing down with the spoon then scooping, just like digging out a plant in your garden that you don’t want to keep.
The bulk of the choke should come out in one piece.
(No wonder they call it a choke…I wouldn’t want to eat that!)
There will still be some feathery fronds left in the center of your artichoke. Dig all that out, too, and discard.
You want the center to be empty and clean.
Rub the artichokes with lemon
Artichokes are one of those veggies that will quickly brown once cut. Avoid this by rubbing the artichoke all over with a half a lemon. Once you do that, squeeze some juice into the center and kind of roll it around to coat the inside.
Congratulations! You’ve now disarmed and cleaned one artichoke.
Repeat with the rest.
Make the stuffing
The stuffing is really simple to make. Grab your panko breadcrumbs. (Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs. They’re made from crustless white bread, and are lighter and crisper than regular breadcrumbs. You can find them at most major markets these days, either with the stuffing or the Asian food.)
Put the panko in a large mixing bowl. Toss in the Parmesan.
Grate in the lemon zest.
Add the white pepper, garlic, and salt. Mix with a fork until fairly uniform. If you want to add other seasonings and spices, this is the time to do it.
Add the olive oil and squeeze in the lemon juice.
Mix with a fork until the crumbs are uniformly moist.
Stuff the artichokes
Fill the center of the artichoke loosely with stuffing.
Pull back the leaves on the sides and drop some stuffing in between them.
Combine the water, wine, and olive oil in a large pan or pot. (Basically you want to use a pot that’s deep enough to hold the artichokes and has a tight fitting lid.) Now, this is a pretty basic braising liquid. You can totally add other stuff to it if you wanted…I’m thinking garlic, fresh herbs, chopped onion, etc.
Set the stuffed artichoke in the liquid, so he’s standing up.
Repeat with the rest of the artichokes.
(They’re not so tough now, eh?)
Squeeze a lemon over the whole business and drop both halves into the pot.
Braise the artichokes
Set the pot on the stove over medium high heat. Bring the liquid up to a boil.
When it starts to boil, knock the heat down so that the liquid just holds a simmer.
Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Cook like this, covered, for about 40-50 minutes, until the artichokes are tender. Keep an eye on the pot, and add more water and wine if it starts to evaporate too quickly.
Serve & enjoy!
When the artichokes are done, they’ll be sort of an olive green color, and they’ll be tender when you pierce them with a fork. Remove them from the pot carefully with tongs and transfer to a serving platter.