Eat your hearts out

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Dare to prepare
Eating fresh artichokes is as much about the journey as the destination, since the delicious heart is protected by tough, spine-tipped leaves (artichokes are actually thistles) and the “choke,” a clump of hairy fibers at the center. Though the heart and the thick stem below are considered the prize, artichoke aficionados use the fleshy outer leaves as a vehicle for butter or vinaigrette, scraping the thicker flesh at the bottom between the teeth and discarding the tough part.
 
Here’s how: Bring to a boil 1 qt. of water seasoned with 1 tbs. of salt, a few peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, half an onion and a carrot. While your water heats, strip off the outer 2-3 layers of leaves, cut off the artichoke’s tip with a sharp, heavy knife, and trim any remaining spines with a pair of scissors. Use a spoon to dig out the choke. Peel the stem with a sharp peeler or paring knife. Add the artichokes to the boiling water, reduce to a simmer and cook for 25-35 minutes or until the leaves pull off easily. Serve with melted butter or vinaigrette. Each artichoke serves one.—Meredith Barnes
 
Five dishes we love
With its pointy petals and fuzzy choke, the artichoke isn’t the most welcoming vegetable. Prep takes time and practice, so why not leave it to the pros? These places do the dirty work on the thorny thistles, leaving you to claim their succulent rewards. —Megan Headley
 
Hamiltons’ Polyface chicken breast (top) elegantly shares its plate with sautéed baby artichokes, AM Fog oyster mushrooms and a sherry, tarragon pan sauce.
 
Far from a buffet table’s artichoke dip, the C&O’s warm artichoke pâté makes for a melt-in-your-mouth spread on toasted baguette.
 
Tastings isn’t just a wine shop—its salad of gigante beans, green beans, artichoke hearts, wood-grilled red peppers, basil, black olives and garlic vinaigrette shows off owner Bill Curtis’s culinary chops.
 
Feast!’s “The Local” sandwich (middle) tucks artichoke hearts between pieces of chewy baguette slathered with creamy Caromont Farm goat cheese and briny olive tapenade.
 
Vita Nova nestles sautéed artichokes, caramelized onions, Kalamata olives and fresh herbs under a blanket of Fontina and Asiago cheeses for a tastefully loaded slice (bottom).

 

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