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Step by Step - Artichokes
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Artichokes are the flower head of a variety of large thistle. For most, cooking this unusual vegetable for the first time can be a challenge. Here we show you how easy they are to prepare. Artichokes can be used as an ingredient for another dish, or served as a starter with a simple dressing or hollandaise sauce. They have a distinctive, nutty flavour. Each leaf should be eaten separately - pull it through your teeth to enjoy the tasty pulp, then discard. The spiky choke at the centre should be removed to reveal the prized, meaty heart at the base.
If the artichokes are to be served cold, cook them to the end of step 3, then plunge into cold water to stop them from cooking any further. Drain thoroughly. Serve with Waitrose Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Lemon Fresh Dressing.
When selecting a fresh artichoke, pick one with fleshy, smooth green leaves that feels heavy for its size. If it is not going to be used immediately, moisten the top of the artichoke with water then place in a plastic bag in the fridge. Keep for up to 2 weeks.
To prevent the artichoke from discolouring during preparation, rub cut surfaces with half a lemon.
Artichokes will retain their pale colour during cooking if boiled in water with added lemon juice - use 4 tbsp lemon juice to 1 litre of water.
Artichokes can be grilled - cut them in half, remove the choke, rub with olive oil and garlic and barbecue or grill for about 30 minutes, turning once. When cooked, the base should be tender when a knife is inserted into it.
To roast artichokes, trim them as for grilling, above, then cut into 6 wedges. Dip them into a bowl of water with lemon juice, then drain and pat dry on kitchen paper. Toss them in olive oil to coat, then place in an ovenproof dish with some fresh thyme and 3-4 tbsp dry white wine. Cover with greaseproof paper and then foil (so the artichokes do not come into contact with the foil as this will cause discolouration), and bake at 200°C, gas mark 6, for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and paper and cook for a further 20 minutes, until the edges begin to brown and crisp.
Large cook's knife
Stainless steel pan (iron or aluminium pans may cause discolouration of the artichoke)
Steamer or colander
Clean tea towel
This recipe was first published in August 2002.