I don't know many people besides myself who cook and eat fresh artichokes. They are intimidating! And fresh ones certainly don't look conducive to eating. When I purchased my latest artichoke batch at the grocery store, the gal who checked me out said, "Oh. Artichokes. These things are sharp and they poke me all the time! Are they any good?"
Are they any good? They are delicious!
This is yet another food that I am thankful my mom introduced me to growing up. I have nibbled on the leaves and heart of many a fresh artichoke in my life. If you have never prepared and eaten a fresh artichoke, try one! You will not be disappointed.
First I like to cut off the tips of all of the leaves. There is no other reason for doing this than avoiding getting poked when handling them. The gal at the grocery store was right. They can be sharp.
Then I cut off about an inch from the tip of the artichoke.
There are a couple ways to cook an artichoke. Steaming baskets work well when inserted into a pan with a couple inches of water on the bottom. If you don't own a steaming basket, a saucepan will work just fine. Fill a large saucepan with 3-4 inches of water and add the artichokes (they won't be fully immersed; this is ok) along with one Bay Leaf and four cloves of garlic. I occasionally throw in a couple lemon slices, as well.
Cover saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat and let cook, still covered, for 30-40 minutes, or until outer leaves are easily removed.
Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a small dipping bowl in the microwave.
Begin pulling the leaves off of the artichoke starting at the base. Dip the base of the leaf into the melted butter. Insert leaf into mouth and scrape teeth against it in order to pull the "meat" from it. Discard what is left of the leaf.
Continue doing this until you reach the center of the artichoke. You will see thin, small leaves and underneath them a layer of white fuzz. Cut in half lengthwise and then cut out the fuzzy portion with a knife. I personally find this to be a bit easier than trying to scrape it out with a spoon.
What is left will be the most delectable and meaty part of the entire artichoke. This is called the artichoke heart and it is delicious. Dip in butter and eat down to the stem.