And an easy way to cook them!
½ cup water
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed with a mallet
3 sprigs mint, roughly torn
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp white wine
Flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Remove peel from lemon and set aside. Cut lemon in half; use one half to rub over artichokes as they are prepared and the other half to provide1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
2 Remove any greenery from artichokes but keep the stalks attached if they are undamaged because they can be cooked along with the artichokes. Remove any bruised outer leaves from the artichokes. Wash artichokes and shake dry. Peel stalks with a vegetable peeler. Chop off top third of artichokes and discard. Cut off stalks. Cut artichokes in half. Remove the choke with a teaspoon (the central fibrous fluff) being careful not to scrape away the meaty part underneath it because that is the ‘heart’ (the best bit). Work quickly and squeeze artichokes with lemon juice as you go to stop them browning too much. As the artichokes are done, put them in a bowl of water with the squeezed lemon halves. See photos for these steps here Artichoke preparation
3 Transfer artichokes to a saucepan placing them cut side facing up, shaking off excess water as you go. Add measured water to pan. Strew with garlic, mint and lemon peel. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, white wine and reserved 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Cover pan with a lid and set pan over a medium heat. As soon as the liquid is bubbling, lower the heat and cook gently for 15-20 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a skewer through the thickest part. Transfer artichokes to a side plate, but if the stems are not yet tender, continue cooking them for a further 5-7 minutes, then add them to the plate.
4 Add remaining oil to pan and bubble up until most of the liquid has evaporated. Spoon oily juices over artichokes. Serve hottish or warm.
To eat, carefully dislodge the base with the heart (the bit that housed the fluffy choke). This piece is all edible. Next, work your way through the leaves. The inner ones will be totally edible but then you will strike tougher ones. You can still chew them to extract their fantastic flavour, but you may not want to swallow all the fibre. The outer tougher leaves have a little nugget of gorgeously tender artichoke meat at the base. Prise that off with the teeth, suck off any juices then discard. Yep, you need a bowl for discarded bits! It’s all rather primal and messy and that’s part of the fun. Like crab claws, you get your rewards if you stick with it.