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Most Intimidating Foods to Prepare

Don’t let these 11 dishes deter you. Learn to cook like a chef, from a chef.

ARTICHOKES
What's to fear? They’re spiky! They’re not very “meaty.” And cutting them up is tricky. Getting to the inner heart can hurt your fingers if you’re not careful.

Get over it: To get started, rinse in between the leaves, then shake out the excess moisture. Cut the first couple inches off the top of the artichoke, then use kitchen scissors to snip the sharp tips from the leaves. Boil the cleaned ’choke for 40 to 50 minutes, then remove and scoop out the purple leaves and “hairs” that cover the artichoke heart. The heart itself will be especially creamy and tastes great on its own with a bit of salt and lemon. You can also work them into soups, toss them on a pizza, or mix a few into a large salad.

POMEGRANATE
What's to fear? The challenge. Getting to the edible part of the fruit seems daunting—but there’s a trick. “The way a pomegranate is built, it’s very hard to get inside it and pick the seeds out with your fingers,” says Allen. “It’s so painful to watch people trying to do it. It takes forever—almost like cleaning a crab.”

Get over it: Not only are poms packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants, the super-fruit’s seeds can also really accent a dish with a nice ruby color or give a salad some extra texture. You could even sprinkle some seeds over a squash or pumpkin soup. To seed a pomegranate: Press your hands on it and roll it on the counter, like you would a lime. Cut it in half, hold it over a bowl, and whack it with a spoon. The seeds (called arils) will come flying out.

OYSTERS
What's to fear? The slime factor of seeing people eat them raw. There’s also the whole ordeal of getting the damn things out of their shell.

Get over it: Always buy oysters the day you plan on serving them. There’s an old saying that you should buy oysters only during a month with the letter ‘R’ in it, because oysters spawn during the warm months, a process that takes a lot of energy and yields a tired, mushy mollusk. The key to shucking an oyster is having the right tool—an oyster knife with a short, stubby blade. Take the tip and push it into the hinge of the oyster shell (as opposed to the side that opens) because the shell is thicker there and is less inclined to crack. Separate the top and bottom halves, but make sure you don’t lose the flavorful liquid that’s inside. Use the curved part of the knife to separate the oyster from the shell. Serve fresh oysters over a pile of shaved ice.

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