Artichoke

Artichoke

The globe or common artichoke

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

The leafy bud of a plant of the thistle family. When buying fresh artichokes, look for solid heads with tightly packed leaves. They should be used as soon as possible after buying. If not cooking the same day, store in a closed container in the refrigerator.

Basic preparation: Wash and drain artichokes and trim stems. Pull off any coarse outer leaves then cut one-third off the top of the artichokes or cut off the thorny tips of the remaining leaves with kitchen scissors. As each artichoke is prepared, drop at once into a bowl of cold water containing lemon juice or vinegar; use about 3 tablespoons to each litre of water. This will prevent discolouration. It is possible to remove the hairy choke before cooking, to form little cups which are boiled and then filled with a savoury sauce or stuffing.

Preserved artichokes: Hearts and fonds of artichokes are available tinned or bottled in brine or in oil. They are used in the preparation of antipasti and hors d’oeuvres. Artichoke hearts in brine are drained, dressed with vinaigrette dressing and chopped parsley and served chilled.

The Jerusalem artichoke: Despite the name, this vegetable is quite different from the globe artichoke. The globe is a bud; the Jerusalem artichoke is a tuber. About the size of a small potato, it is creamy-brown with a knobbly shape.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

  1. Boiled artichokes: Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add artichokes and boil, uncovered, until they are tender (for 20–45 minutes depending on size and freshness). A leaf will pull away easily when cooked. Drain upside-down and serve hot with melted butter, warmed cream or hollandaise sauce, or allow to cool and serve with vinaigrette dressing, mayonnaise or sauce tartare.
  2. To eat: Using fingers, pull off one leaf at a time, and dip the base in butter, cream or sauce. Pull the leaf between the teeth to scrape away the soft fleshy base and discard the rest of the leaf. In the centre of older artichokes you will find the fuzzy portion called the choke. Lift up and discard the choke and eat the soft fond (bottom) underneath. This is the most delicate part, and the one often tinned for use In salads and antipasti (as are hearts of artichokes).
  3. Italian artichokes in wine: Use young artichokes with slender elongated heads. Cut the artichokes lengthways into quarters. Put in cold water to cover with some lemon slices as you prepare them. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy pan with a sprig of fresh, or a pinch of dried, oregano, and 1 clove garlic. Add artichokes and cook over moderate heat, tossing the artichokes until they are burnished and crispy on the outside. Remove garlic clove, add 125 ml white wine, season with salt and black pepper, cover and simmer gently for 10–15 minutes, until artichokes are tender. Serve as a first course.
  4. To cook Jerusalem artichokes: Wash well, peel and cut into chunks, then drop into boiling salted water with a squeeze of lemon juice or a little wine added to prevent discolouration. Cook with the lid on for about 5 minutes. Drain, return to pan, add a good knob of butter and cook gently for about 10 minutes or until tender. Season with salt and pepper and toss with a few chopped fresh herbs.
  5. Purée of Jerusalem artichokes: Peel and quarter artichokes and cook as above. Rub through a sieve, return to saucepan and heat gently with a few tablespoons of milk or cream and a touch of nutmeg.
  6. Jerusalem artichoke soup: Prepare puree of Jerusalem artichokes (above). Add enough chicken stock or milk to make a cream soup consistency. Swirl with cream.
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