Can we all agree that cleaning artichokes completely sucks? I mean, there isn’t anything fun about it. You can’t even get all meditative because the minute you do one of those thorns is going to embed itself under a fingernail and torture you for days after wards.
So those artichokes above – which were tasty delicious, by the way – were perhaps not the freshest and most divine of all artichoke specimens I’ve ever encountered. They were tough and fibrous, so cleaning them was extra super sucky. It took forever to clean just four of them.
Luckily, I passed the time with my hands-free and a friend in Seattle. We were strolling along, exchanging news and thoughts about kids and parents and husbands and friends and selves, when I quite rudely interrupted her by yelling “fuck.”
I know, classy.
She kindly asked what happened. I explained that I was cleaning artichokes and a thorn attacked me. She said quite firmly and with great conviction that she never, ever, under any circumstance, cleans artichokes.
I just might have to join her. The thing is, these artichokes really were crazy delicious. But, as I found upon a second cooking, you can get a similar result with a method that leaves the labor happily in the hands of the eater. Both methods are included below.
Lemon garlic artichokes with plenty of mint
To clean the artichokes or not? That decision is yours.
4 to 6 large artichokes (depends on how many people are being fed and how many artichokes they want to eat; the method and sauce amount really works for the range just dandy)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1/2 cup if you’re cleaning them)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon salt
3 clove garlic, minced
12 sprigs mint, leaves minced
Trim the stems of the artichokes and clip off their thorns if you like the people for whom you’re cooking, or go ahead and really trim them into fully edible specimens: set up a bowl of cool water with 1/4 cup of lemon juice in it, trim stem, pull off outer leaves until a solid 2-inch section of them are very light green (really almost yellow), cut off green tops of the leaves, use a paring knife to cut off all the dark or medium green stuff around the stem and heart, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the heart, put in the lemon water and repeat with the remaining chokes (this guide to cleaning baby artichokes shows everything except scooping out the choke; this step of cleaning artichoke hearts shows scraping out the choke).
Put the 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, salt, garlic, and half the mint in a saucepan large enough to hold all the artichokes with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add artichokes, stem-end down (or in whichever way you can if you’ve cleaned and halved them), cover, and reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook, undisturbed, until the bottoms of untrimmed artichokes or the entire cleaned artichokes are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.
Lift artichokes out of the cooking liquid. Transfer trimmed artichokes to a baking or serving dish and full artichokes to individual serving bowls.
Increase heat to boil the liquid left in the pan is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Pour evenly over artichokes and sprinkle artichokes with remaining mint. Serve warm, at room temp, or even chilled. Any leftovers are to die for.