When Recipes Go Wrong – Battling the Tough Choke

I picked up some artichokes at the Autun market with the intention of trying out Patrica Wells’s artichoke and new potato recipe from The Provence Cookbook. Deviating from her recipe, I cooked the artichokes and potatoes separately as in my experience chokes take longer to cook than new potatoes. I just didn’t realize how much longer.

These chokes, medium sized and looking quite normal, were beyond normal convention. After an hour and a half I finally removed them from the pan, pulled them apart and took out the hearts, still crisp tender. Fine to go with the potatoes. The leaves, however, had the consistency of leather shoe tongues.

Having been introduced to artichokes at an early age before they became trendy -my grandmother used to get a kick out of teaching newbies to turn the leaf flesh side down and scrape the tender meat off with the bottom teeth – I have never seen any so tough.

Determined, I put the leaves back in the pot and steamed them for an additional 45 minutes. Better, but still not edible and by this time most of the flavor had leached out, resulting in a mess of faded, tough leaves in sickly green water. Sometimes you have to know when to give up and try again another day.