The most common way of cooking artichokes is usually to boil them, but baking them can also yield tasty results. Prepare the artichokes by rinsing them off completely and then shaking upside down to get rid of any water between the leaves. Then place them on a cutting board and cut the stem down as well as the top inch off the crown. You can also use kitchen scissors to trim the points off individual leaves, although this is more personal preference than completely necessary. For baking, you may also want to cut the artichoke lengthwise and scoop out the spiky choke part. However, you can also do this after baking, so it is again personal preference.
Simple Baked Artichokes
There are several different methods of baking artichokes, but here are a few of the easiest. The first method starts with preheating your oven to 425. In this case, you will need to trim the artichoke as previously described, but leave it whole. Drizzle the artichokes with lemon juice and olive oil, allowing the liquids to go between the leaves. Then sliver two cloves of garlic and stuff between the leaves. Sprinkle the artichokes with salt and pepper and wrap each artichoke in two layers of foil, sealing them off at the top to make a packet. Put the packets in the oven and bake. Two large or extra large artichokes will take about an hour and 20 minutes, medium artichokes will take about an hour. After baking, slice lengthwise and scoop out the choke. Serve with lemon and butter.
The second method starts with a preheated oven to 350. In this method you will need to cut the artichoke and scoop out the choke before baking. Drizzle lemon over the leaves as in the previous recipe. Sprinkle the artichokes with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Then place the artichokes in a baking dish and drizzle all over with olive oil. Pour one tablespoon of water and 1/3 cup of white wine or vermouth over the top. Cover with foil and bake. Two artichokes in this method will take 40 to 50 minutes. Serve with melted butter or mayonnaise.
Stuffed Baked Artichokes
Another method of baking artichokes is to stuff them. In this method, you will prep the artichokes as previously mentioned, but do not slice them in half. The other difference is that you will be boiling them in salted water for 10 minutes before proceeding with the next steps. While the artichokes are boiling, preheat the oven to 350 and heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan and cook some diced onion and minced garlic. Combine this with two cups of bread crumbs for eight medium artichokes. Add in your choice of fresh herbs, mint and parsley work well, four teaspoons of vinegar, preferably balsamic, and salt and pepper to taste. When the artichokes are finished boiling slice them in half and remove the choke. Replace the choke with the stuffing, place in a baking dish with an inch of boiling water and bake for 45 minutes covered with foil.
Tips for Picking Out Fresh Artichokes
A fresh artichoke should be deep green in color and have tightly closed leaves. They should also feel heavy for their apparent size so be sure to pick them up and feel them. The prime seasons for artichokes are spring and fall, but they are generally available all year long. Fall and winter artichokes may show up in stores with brownish tips or a white blistered look. This may mean that it has received a light frost and these artichokes can be extremely tender and flavorful. However, the brown can also mean it is less than fresh. To test, try peeling the brown off with a fingernail. If it comes off easily, it is a frosted artichoke.