Preparing a Whole Artichoke for Cooking
Cut the stem of a jumbo or large artichoke to about 1-inch in length, or flush with its bottom if your final presentation calls for an "upright or standing" artichoke. Remove the small leaves along the stem and a few of the outermost leaves by snapping them off at the base. Using a serrated knife, cut the top of the artichoke away. Trim the tips of the remaining leaves with kitchen shears to remove the sharp thorns. Rub the cut edges of the artichoke with lemon, or immerse the entire artichoke in a bath of acidulated water.
Cooking an Artichoke
Large or jumbo artichokes may be prepared in a variety of methods:
Steaming: using a steamer basket in a large pot, place the artichokes stem-side down beside each other. Steam for 30 to 50 minutes; adjust the time according to the size and number of artichokes. Check the water level periodically to ensure enough steam and to avoid a dry pot. Insert the tip of a knife into the thickest portion of the heart to test for doneness.
Boiling: place prepped artichokes in a pot of boiling, salted water for 25 to 40 minutes or until tender. Adjust time according to the size and quantity of the artichokes.
Microwaving: using a microwave safe bowl, place the artichokes in 1-2 inches of water. Cover with a plate or vented plastic wrap. For jumbo artichokes, cook on high for 12-15 minutes; for medium-sized artichokes, 7-10 minutes.
Grilling: to grill artichokes, boil, microwave, or steam the artichokes first. Halve the artichokes; brush the cooked artichokes with olive oil, and place on the grill, turning at least once. Grill until nicely browned and suitably branded with grill marks.
Roasting - to roast artichokes, boil, microwave, or steam the artichokes until not quite tender -- 10 minutes shy of doneness. Drain, brush with olive oil and bake in a hot oven (400-425° F) for 10-20 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned.
Trim the top the artichoke with a serrated knife.
Trim stem with a knife; break off several outer leaves.
How to Eat a Fresh, Whole Artichoke
For such a large vegetable, only a small portion of the artichoke is edible: the heart, the inside of the stem, and the small pithy portion of each leaf that attaches to the heart. Serve one whole artichoke per person.
Accompaniments for Artichokes
As a native of the Mediterranean, the artichoke blends perfectly with other flavors of the region. And, if there's an arranged marriage to be made with an artichoke, it's with the lemon. Begin with using a lemon to rub the cut edges of the artichoke to decrease any browning. Artichokes may be boiled in water with lemon added, or for added flavor, boil artichokes in broth. Serve whole artichokes with individual side dishes of sauce for dipping. Some of our favorite sauces include Hollandaise, Creamy Garlic, Greek Style dressings, melted butter, or even mayonnaise-based sauces.