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Tricky Thistles

Prep and cook artichokes like a pro this season with these easy tips.


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Photo by Stockfood/Jalag/Schardt, Wolfgang

The artichoke—that pokey thistle with tender goodness at its heart—may cause trepidation with its thorny exterior, but the rewards of cooking one just right are too delicious to pass up. Here are five tips for tackling the choke.

1. Gloved Action
To avoid that sticky residue that comes with prepping an artichoke, wear latex gloves. Not only will the gloves prevent the sap from sticking to you and contaminating other foods, they also provide a barrier against those spikes.

2. Snip, Snip
When trimming your choke, hold it from the stem. Cut the top portion of the thistle with a serrated knife—doing away with the majority of thorns—and snip the tops of the exterior leaves with kitchen scissors. Be sure to peel away a few bottom layers, especially if the leaves are discolored or bruised.
 

3. Flame On
Whether it’s boiling, poaching, steaming, roasting, or barbecuing, you really can’t go wrong when cooking your artichoke. Boiling makes them tender; roasting adds a meaty quality, and barbecuing imbues some smoke.

4. Parsley Power
To prevent your artichoke from turning brown while boiling, steaming, or poaching, throw a handful of Italian parsley into cold water, and let the herb soak before placing the leaves in your boiling pot. Parsley is high in ascorbic acid, which helps prevent discoloration.

5. Dig In
After roughly 35 to 45 minutes of cooking (depending on size), give the inner leaves a slight tug. If they come out with ease, you are good to go. Take the leaves and dive into your favorite dip, or use the hearts to add some toothsome tenderness to a hot dish or salad.

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