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Artichokes - Conquering the thorny thistle. Help

Stuffed artichokes show up on almost every holiday table in my family - they were one of Grandma's (RIP) specialties I never realized how much work these suckers were. I tried to prepare some last week only for the second time. Once again I made quite a mess and once again I broke one in half - which actually was a good thing because it let me explode the anatomy of a choke just a bit. After looking at may recipes and other online tutorials I remain confused about some basic things

1. Remove the fuzzy part or not?
some recipes made this a primary objective - other's never mentioned its existence. Do I really need to? only when stuffing?

2. use the stem?
some said to chop it up and use in the stuffing - without peeling it was not appetizing - peeled it was virtually non existent

3. How much do I remove?
between removing the outer leaves, the inner purple ones, the tops off all remaining I feel like almost nothing was left - but all that seemed useless - just a lot of work and waste to get to the tasty part I guess.

4. Stuff the center?
So many recipes only mentioned stuffing between the leaves and never mentioned a big dollop of stuffing in the center of the choke - this seems like a big missed opportunity

5. How to spread the petals?
I felt like I was fighting them the whole time. Is there something I can do to make the bud more pliable? Soaking it perhaps?

All in all my chokes were tasty - stuffed with sardines, romano, breadcrumbs, garlic and lemon w egg binder but they were not pretty - any tips and trick for next time? Scissors for trimming the petals was the primary breakthrough

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  1. Jacques Pepin preps an artichoke:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF78n_...

    and here he does it again but a little faster (skip to 11:12):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alHc7j...

    5 Replies
    1. re: PinkLynx

      I always take out the fuzzy part. I always use the stem...it's hardly worth it but there's so much waste with artichokes I eat everything I can. They're such a PITA, personally I don't think they're worth it. I can lick some melted butter and be just as happy. Happier actually- because my kitchen won't stink of artichoke.

      1. re: PinkLynx

        that's a nice video - his chokes look much nicer and fresher than the ones I had or ever see at market - and his knife skills where he makes a cone out of the 3rd one are just amazing - good tutorial though - JP is always great.

        but I think my kitchen smelling like artichokes is a good thing LOL

        1. re: JTPhilly

          That's true, I always notice how much nicer his look than anything I've ever been able to get my hands on.

          1. re: JTPhilly

            I love the smell of artichokes steaming. I'd even buy an artichoke air freshener.

            1. re: tcamp

              I think we are in a very small niche market Tcamp

        2. I generally just steam mine and then go leaf by leaf to the center with a bowl of butter. But if you don't want to do that you can discard the tougher outter leaves. There's a lot of waste in artichokes. Then peel the bottom around where you took the tough leaves out. Then cut in 1/2. You will then see the choke, use a spoon and get the fuzzy bits out. Trim the top to neaten it all up and put in bowl of lemon water to keep them from getting too brown from the air. Then you can drizzle with some oil and grill. Or you can stuff the halves.

          1 Reply
          1. If you enjoy eating fiberglas insulation, you can eat the choke (the fuzzy part). Otherwise, remove it. If you halve an artichoke lengthwise, from tip to stem, you can remove it before cooking. If you want to cook and serve the vegetable whole, you'll need to scrape out the fuzz with a spoon after cooking.

            8 Replies
            1. re: greygarious

              yeah, I assumed it needs to go yet so many recipes never even mention the thing

              I guess until I can wield a knife like JP its just going to be a messy affair

              1. re: JTPhilly

                I would submit that so many recipes do not mention removing the choke as it is assumed that the cook already knows to do this.

                Same as snapping asparagus, or peeling sweet corn before boiling. A given.

                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                  http://www.food.com/recipe/italian-st...

                  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Stuffed-...

                  http://www.pauladeen.com/recipes/reci...

                  http://italianchef.com/2010/11/22/stu...

                  these are the four first bing results for stuffed artichokes - not one removes the choke -

                  epicurious is the first to have a recipe that explicitly removes the choke

                  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                  after comparing several recipes removing the choke and creating a big pocket for stuffing made sense to me but none of the above do it hence my confusion -

                  it leaves me wondering if once made people even know where the heart is to eat it after prepared - artichokes are not the most common veg out there so it would be odd to assume such prior knowledge - its not like reminding people to peel a banana before putting it into a cake

                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                    "Same as snapping asparagus, or peeling sweet corn before boiling. A given."

                    The latter is pretty much common sense, while the former is not. If you are not very familiar with asparagus you may not know this.
                    Plus, I never do it anyway. I just cut off a small portion of the tail off and use the rest of the asparagus. Snapping wastes too much.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Snapped ends make a great cream of asparagus soup. Just have to mash them through strainer after cooking.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          I cut off a bit of the bottom and then peel the bottom couple inches of the asparagus stalk.

                          1. re: John E.

                            That's what I do, but only when the bottom seems like it is a bit tough skinned; otherwise I don't even bother peeling.

                2. I remove the choke entirely using a tablespoon as a makeshift "spade" of sorts and stuff the center. As for spreading the petals, if you are buying fresh artichokes, they should open with a bit of prying (and "squeak"). I hold the artichoke over the bowl of stuffing mix and sprinkle/press the mixture between the leaves. By the time I am done, the artichoke is almost twice the size.

                  1. After eating the flesh on the leaves, I cut out the thistle layer with a small paring knife, going around the circumference at about a 15 degree angle downward, to get all of the thistles in one revolution without whittling away the heart. It certainly requires some practice which is well rewarded by the tasty heart with butter.