Last night we cooked the artichoke. Four globe artichokes to be exact. I've eaten my fair share of artichoke hearts and by fair share I mean enough. They sit on pizzas (and I typically pick them off after eating one or two) or in pastas (where I essentially do the same thing) or on antipasti platters (where I avoid them because they are typically pickled and let it be known I'm anti.) Having sampled the jarred hearts (insert soundtrack), I've always been curious to know what it is about the prickly, green, well-sculpted veg that appeals to the masses, or at least the kind of people that order antipasti plates or Italians, or those who want to be more Italian. But what I really wanted to do-- figure out how the hell you cook/eat a semi-fresh artichoke.
I'd classify the entire experience as strangely addictive + a whole bunch of effort for a little bit of food + an eating adventure that produced more questions than answers. To start I had to google "how do you cook an artichoke" and then, truthfully, "how does one actually eat an artichoke." The eating of the artichoke I found the most perplexing, but we'll get there. Thanks to the video below, I one stop shopped the entire process.
After a good 18 minutes of prep (snip off the prickle ends, rub exposed edges with lemon to avoid browning, boil water for steaming and add some thyme from the garden, etc), I dropped the chokes in the bit o water for a 30 minute steam. If we were on a cooking show this is when I'd pull out the pre-steamed but super pretty artichokes. Pretend this happened.
30 minutes later HBF arrives home and together we start questioning the artichoke eating process. Basically you snag a leaf off this globe and bite the tender inner edge of it. You essentially get a teensy (technical artichoke term, I did my research) bit of flesh that makes you wonder two things: 1) Who decided this was a great way to eat? 2) This is so fun I can't wait to eat another teensy bit of artichoke. It might have been the quick lemony, buttery mayo dipping sauce we made, or the few sips of New Glarus Spotted Cow, but we quickly decided we're "Artichoke people" and finished two full green globes before the plantains I was concurrently frying were browned on one side.
Dissecting one of the artichokes showed me it's inner thistle (getting fresh with the choke. worth it.) After carefully reviewing the wiki page, I learned that cardoons, a frequent Chopped ingredient (didn't think you'd get outta this post without me mentioning a television program, did you?), are actually the "uncultivated" plant of an artichoke. I think that essentially means they are related, or the same, wiki was unclear. Four artichokes later. Yes. Four. All four artichokes. At least one was used as a scientific sacrifice, the others were probably eaten by me.
Four artichokes later I'm convinced I need to host one of my themed dinner parties around foods that are a lot of trouble to eat, but worth it. (Other potential menu items include: crab legs, pistachios, walnuts from the tree out in front of the house, and anything else you can suggest in the comments below. Suggesting a menu item increases your chances of being invited to said party. FYI.)
So 1/3 of #15 is complete. And I give the whole process a big "I'd do that again." I still wonder how and why people have time and energy to work up jars full of hearts (keep singing). We ended up with a pile of fleshless leaves of thistle (sounds like a poem about poverty?) and semi-full bellies.
The key to it all, lemony, buttery mayo. You're welcome.