How to Prepare (and Eat!) an Artichoke

When I was a principal at South Callaway Schools, my administrative assistant was a sunny and kind woman named Dana who was a California (state) implant to Missouri.  Dana was the perfect antidote to my seriousness and always made sure that school was a fun place to be.

One day, for whatever reason, Dana and I were at school with no one else around.  It could have been before Parent Teacher conferences, or maybe a school concert, but she decided she was going to show me the proper way to make and eat an artichoke.

She brought one to school and somehow cooked the thing and showed me how to eat it.  It Rewas delicious, and since that day, I have tried to make sure I have at least one whole artichoke a year.

I am going to show you how Dana taught me to make an artichoke.

First, snip off the pointy ends of each petal.

Remove most of the woody stem, leaving about an inch.   Cut off the top 1/4 with a serrated knife.  
Rinse the artichoke under cold running water.  Place your aromatics (I use bay leaf, lemon and garlic) in a pot holding 2" of water.  Heat water to boiling, then reduce heat to simmer.

Place your steamer basket in the pot, add your artichoke, cover and cook for 25-45 minutes (it depends on how big and tight the artichoke is) or until one of the petals comes off easily.

Using tongs to place your artichoke on your plate.  Prepare dipping sauce for the artichoke.  I like mayo mixed in with a little balsamic vinegar.  

To eat, pull off one of the petals, dip in the sauce and place the petal in your mouth, dip side down.  Use your teeth to scrape off the small bit of meaty flesh at the bottom of the petal.  Work all away around your artichoke until it looks like this:

This hairy structure is the choke.  I was told not to eat it. So I don't.  I scrape it off with a spoon until I get to this:

This is the heart of the artichoke.  Dip it into the sauce and eat it.  There is about four good bites here.

This is a delicacy and something I look forward to each year.  I remember with fondness many memories of my time at South Callaway, of the dear friends I met and still keep in contact with over the years.  Thank you, Dana, for showing me the true delight of the artichoke.

Terri Steffes
Terri Steffes

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