Kitchen Knife Skills: Techniques for Carving, Boning, Slicing, Chopping, Dicing, Mincing, Filleting by Marianne Lumb, includes useful techniques like Preparing an Artichoke; Preparing Pineapple; and Preparing a Lobster.
by Marianne Lumb
The artichoke is unlike any other vegetable in its tricky preparation techniques—preparing the elegant artichoke is very much a labor of love, but worth the effort in the end. The larger the artichoke grows, the tougher the consistency becomes, so ensure that your knife is very sharp.
You can prepare the artichoke in a number of ways—the easiest is to cook and serve the artichoke whole (with no preparation). The artichoke is then "prepared" by whoever is eating it: first by pulling off the leaves (and sucking out the flesh), then by scooping out the hairy choke until finally eating the bottom. Preparing the artichoke before serving leaves just the bottom portion, as shown in steps 4 and 5 opposite. When preparing an artichoke for the first time it will feel like you are throwing most of it away—unfortunately, there is a lot of waste.
Here we have used a serrated bread knife that tackles the rigid exterior well. A paring knife is also useful for trimming any edges (step 4). The skin is slightly softer on smaller artichokes, so a medium cook's knife will do.
Remember that when artichokes are cut, their exposed sides will turn brown (oxidize) quickly, so either rub the exposed sides with a lemon half, or place the artichoke into some acidulated (lemon) water.
Step 1. Place the artichoke on its side. Grip the large end in one hand and use a large serrated knife or large cook's knife to trim off the woody stem.
Step 2. Shave off a small amount of the bottom of the artichoke globe to leave a flat, even base.
Step 3. Turn and carve around the edge of the artichoke, removing the tough outer leaves as you work. Try not to remove too much flesh.
Step 4. Using a paring knife or small kitchen knife, trim a small amount off of the base of the artichoke.
Step 5. Next, we need to remove what is called the "hairy choke" (this is not necessary in younger artichokes).
Cut off the excess leaves, then take a spoon and scoop the hairy choke out. There will be quite an abundance of this matter. It is not edible, so discard. The artichoke bottom is now ready to cook. Either place immediately into acidulated water or the chosen cooking liquid, or slice or quarter and then cook.
Step 1. Young artichokes are much easier to prepare, as the flesh is still tender. The hairy choke is less developed and edible so it doesn't have to be removed.
Place the artichoke on its side and remove the tough outer leaves. Turn the artichoke and repeat to remaining sides.
Step 2. Slice off about one-third of the leaves from the end of the artichoke, and discard them.
Step 3. Next, peel the stalk. Take the artichoke in one hand and a paring knife in the other and gently carve off the tough outer skin. Take off as little as possible. Be sure to follow the natural lines of the artichoke stem. Thinly slice the remaining flesh and eat raw or deepfried, or, for a simple cooking method, cook whole.
This page created March 2010
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