We love to explore new culinary experiences and gastronomic adventures. Fast food items and other common restaurant dishes are tried and tested in terms of presentation, nutritional value, and the convenience they can give us in terms of eating them straight from the plate. But what about food items that need to be properly prepared first and cooked before they can be consumed? For that question, it is understandable that people might steer clear from such food items or ingredients and one such ingredient or item is artichoke hearts. So in this article, we will look at how we can properly prepare artichoke hearts before we can eat them. Read on and find out!
Artichokes: Intimidating but Doable
Artichokes can be intimidating especially if you are not used to eating or preparing them in the first place. In addition, the way artichokes are eaten and prepared can be very different from how it actually looks. Artichokes actually come from the thistle bud which is a form of a flower. The bracts, also referred to as the leaves surround the choke of the flower or the bud, which is located right on top of the flower’s core (described as quite meaty) referred to as the heart. Artichoke hearts are delicious and obviously edible.
The choke, being too fuzzy in aged artichokes is inedible due to it being too fibrous, However, baby artichokes’ choke may still be eaten as they can still be tender. All of the parts are actually edible with the exception of the leaves in the innermost part of the artichoke. This portion may require the use of the teeth for the tender parts to be scraped.
How Are Artichokes Cooked?
Artichoke hearts can be cooked and prepared in a number of different ways such as baking them, stuffing them, braising them, or even grilling them. However, one the best and simplest ways to prepare artichokes is by having them steamed. Steaming can cook the artichokes with the right amount of water content compared to boiling them which can make them too hydrated or overly filled with water. One sure-fire and delicious way to prepare artichokes by steaming them is by adding a lemon slice, some garlic, and some bay leaf to some water that is steaming. This is to ensure that the flavors are infused into the artichokes. Individuals can also have their artichokes steamed through a pressure cooker or on top of their stoves. To cook the artichokes faster, a pressure cooker may be the way to go but the cooking process may not be as controlled leading to overcooked artichokes.
Choosing the Right Kind of Artichokes to Purchase
Below are some of the tips people can use to ensure that they buy the right kind of artichokes for their ingredient:
- Artichokes that feel heavy should be the way to go- People are advised to go for artichokes that have more weight. This is due to the fact that lighter artichokes may have already been completely dried out and its meatiness has been greatly reduced.
- There should be a squeaking sound if the artichoke is pressed or squeezed- Squeaking noises when the artichoke is squeezed or pressed is another sign that the said food item is still fresh.
- The leaves of the artichokes should be closed- Fresh artichokes should have small gaps between them but should never be wide apart. Keep in mind that flowers, such as artichokes, will have leaves that slowly open wide. As such, artichokes with leaves that are widely spread or already opened may already be old.
- Artichokes that are frost-kissed are satisfactory- Those frost burned artichokes are still okay and may even taste well compared to regular artichokes that have not been frost-kissed. Some of these frost-kissed artichokes even come at a steep price because of this.
Cooking an Artichoke
To cook a very basic artichoke dish, people will need the following ingredients:
- Large artichoke globes- 1 or more globes
- Garlic cloves with the skin still on- one (1) to (2) cloves
- Bay leaf- One (1) piece
- A lemon slice
Then, follow these instructions:
- Cut off the leaves tips- Using kitchen scissors or a knife, cut off or slice the thorny ends of the artichokes’ leaves. This step is actually more on the presentation of the artichoke as the artichoke will tend to look better without the thorns. It is also easier to handle them without these thorny leaves.
- The artichoke top should be sliced off- The artichoke’s tip (around ¾ of an inch to one inch) should be chopped off from the artichoke and to this effect, a kitchen knife that is serrated may be used.
- Remove and cut off the excess stem- Leaving an inch, the artichoke’s stem should then be cut off. Some individuals prefer to eat the stem but they can be a little bitter. The stem’s core will usually have a similar taste to that of the artichoke hearts. Another method is to not cut the stem at all but to just peel off the outer layer of the artichoke’s stem to get to that tasty inner core.
- Have the Artichokes rinsed- Running cold water should be utilized when rinsing artichokes? It is also recommended that while rinsing, the leaves are kept apart a bit just let a little water rinse the insides as well. Removing the tips that are thorny earlier in the process can mean a big difference as this step in cooking artichokes will be much easier.
- Prepare the pot with a steaming basket, some aromatics, and some water- In a pot that is large, pour some water and add the bay leaf, garlic, and some lemon slice. This combination can give the artichoke a much better flavor. The steam basket should then be inserted.
- The artichokes should then be steamed- Put all the artichokes in the steaming basket’s top portion. Make sure that the pot is covered before bringing it to a boil and reducing the settings to simmer.