Look for tight, heavy artichokes with plump outer leaves. To prepare them, cut off the top of the head using a sharp knife — the first third to a half, depending on what stage of the season it was harvested. Younger artichokes need less trimming than older artichokes. Trim the stem leaving about 2.5 cm (1 inch), or a bit less if the stem is shrivelled. Remove the outer, coarser leaves until you find the paler internal leaves. Using your sharp knife, trim away the skin of the stem and around the base and discard. Cut the head into quarters lengthways or as described in the recipe. (Scrape out the hairy choke if it has developed.)
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