Artichokes are one of my favorite foods. It’s a toss up between the flavor of them and how much fun the leaves are to eat. This week’s column features these versatile veggie with:
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Trimming artichokes may seem like a mystery, but like most everything, once you understand how to do it, it’s not that hard. Jacques Pepin has a detailed slide show on how to trim artichokes. One of the best I’ve seen.
Trimming an Artichoke
1. Cut one lemon into slices and add to a bowl of water. Slice another lemon in half to rub on the sliced areas of the artichokes.
2. Cut 1/3 off the top. Cut all but 1 1/2 – 2 inches off the stem.
3. Remove the outer leave from the base – about two layers.
4. With scissors, trim the pointy ends of the remaining leaves.
5. Trim the base and stem with a paring knife so that they are smooth.
6. For steaming: leave whole.
7. For braising: Cut in quarters and remove the center purple leaves and the fuzzy choke with a grapefruit spoon.
8. For a finer look: remove all outer leaves with a chef’s knife until you have reached the light yellow leaves. Separate them from the bottom and discard the purple, pointy center leaves, placing the yellow leaves in the lemon water. Remove the choke (the fuzzy part) from the bottom and add the bottom to the lemon water.
9. Rub finished artichokes with lemon and place in lemon water until you are ready to cook them to prevent them from browning.
2 lemons (One for the water as indicated in the trimming instructions, 1/2 to rub on the exposed parts and 1/2 for the steaming water.)
In a saucepan or stockpot large enough to accommodate 4 artichokes, add 1 inch of water and 1/2 of a lemon. Steam the artichokes, tops up, in a vegetables steamer for 30-40 minutes. Drain upside down. Serve warm or chilled with Parmesan Aioli.
Serves 4 as a large appetizer
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
In a food processor, pulse the first 6 ingredients. With the food processor on, slowly add the vegetable oil going drop by drop at first and then increasing to a thin stream. Add the rest of the ingredients. Store in the refrigerator.
Makes 1 1/4 cups