Prepping artichokes for lemon braise
Hi! I'm participating in a very amateur iron chef-style challenge tomorrow night with a friend, and I've decided to make a variation on this recipe:
I'm having trouble with the artichoke instructions though. I have pared them down a lot and quartered them (I'm thinking now I need to pare them down even more -- how do I know when to stop?!).
Problem is, even with lemon juice, they've already started to discolor and I don't know if I should remove the purple leaves on the inside as well as the furry choke.
Can someone help?
It's a bit late in the season for artichokes but, if you've found some good ones that have do not have a lot of open leaves they'll probably work out fine. I'm assuming that the chokes you're using are heavy for their size, are dark green and that the outer leaves are tightly closed and somewhat moist in texture. Dry outer leaves are to be avoided and if you have those you may be getting off to a bad start.
After rinsing them well under cold running water (or allow them to sit for a spell in a pan of cold water before rinsing) they're ready to prepare for cooking. I generally remove the tough outer leaves and continue to remove them until I've reached a layer of nice tender specimens. That's when I begin the cutting process. After cutting the top down to the point I've selected, I use scissors to cut off the tips of the leaves. I don't cut the stem off entirely, but leave a short piece of it attached. I peel the tough outer layer off of the stem leaving only the tender center portion. I keep about a cup of fresh lemon juice handy on the side and, instead of rubbing the choke with lemon or drizzling juice on the choke, I repeatedly dip the choke into the juice to ensure it is well covered in juice. I do that with each pass of the knife or spoon when removing that hairy choke portion. I do remove some of those purple leaves but, because the can be eaten, I don't worry about getting all of them out. You mentioned quartering the artichokes for braising, I would probably leave them in halves - but that's a matter of preference. I find that halves hold together better in the braising process and (IMHO) make a nicer presentation.