Artichokes - Grill 'em!
The main course
Artichokes are fabulous, one of the world's great and most sophisticated tastes, though still special enough that many people have never actually tried them. For those of who have, however, they are available fresh, canned, frozen, and marinated.
Fresh ones are traditionally boiled or steamed. Statistics are hard to come by, but in my estimation this is the way that the vast majority of artichokes are consumed today. But grilling them produces an enhanced flavor and constitutes something special. Actually, we are not going to grill them ab initio (from the outset), though it is certainly possible to do that. Instead, we are going to boil them a little and then grill them. This makes the grilling process a bit less risky and detracts very little, if at all, from the final flavor that we desire.
It is simple to prepare artichokes in this way. Just follow the steps laid out clearly here and then -- grill em!
Artichokes, by the way, though you probably already know this, are an Italian thing. Perhaps you did not know, however, that Italy produces nearly ten times the amount produced in the United States, and over twice as much as its nearest competitor, Spain. Italians love artichokes.
These are globes, globe artichokes. Looking at these, the name is obvious.
Large and generally expensive -- but not always, since in early summer they can be available at a good price. Many artichokes available to us are smaller than this, and though while equally good, are not quite so fitted for the grilling we have in mind.
Don't be discouraged, though, if globes are not available. Any type of artichoke can be grilled with success. In this sense, they are all great.
Pull off small ones
The small outer leaves where the stem joins the globe should be pulled off an discarded. They contain none of the artichoke meat.
Aesthetically, too, the artichoke makes a better presentation when these small distractions are removed. We want the full-sized leaves to constitute the whole of the globe.
Pretty simple if you have a knife of the proper size. Sharpness of knife is also key. Just slice right down through the globe in order to divide the left hemisphere from the right one.
Here you can see that extra meat in the stem. The stem is important.
After cutting out the choke (the obviously prickly part in the very center), note that the meat in the center, or heart, of the artichoke actually continues down the middle of the stem. Discoveries like this are hidden artichoke gems.
Some people foolishly cut the stem off at the very base of the globe and throw it away. By instead removing the hard outer skin of that stem, and preserving its interior, you can actually increase the amount of artichoke meat, or heart, you have.
(Note also, by the way, how quickly the inside of the artichoke starts to discolor when exposed to air. That is nothing to worry about, though, and the boiling-grilling will completely do away with it).
Fully trimmed, ready for the pot
As mentioned, the cut side of the artichoke discolors fast, so the natural desire is to proceed quickly to the next step.
In this case, the natural desire is a good thing because gets us to a delicious final result that little bit faster.
Although you can omit this step and put the halved artichokes right on the grill from the moment you sliced them in half, that omission would actually make the task harder because you must continually monitor degree-of-doneness against scorching.
It's a difficult balance.
The balance is a lot easier to judge and control if you boil the artichokes first for fifteen or twenty minutes. This softens them sufficiently so that the grilling serves to enhance their flavor rather than doing all the work of cooking.
On the grill
Start the grilling process by placing the part-boiled artichoke halves face down on the grill, for several minutes.
But be sure to grill both sides.
Some people turn them frequently. I prefer a few minutes face down, then the same when turned over. About three or four minutes on each side, providing the grill has been preheated. You do preheat your grill, do you not?
Done to a turn
Actually these might be considered by some to be a little overdone. For others, like me, this is just right.
You can, of course, remove them from the grill whenever you want, according to your own particular tastes -- just be sure to watch them carefully while on the grill, lifting the lid periodically to see how they are doing.
These tasted good!
They can of course be eaten with melted butter. But they can also, as here, be left to cool (or refrigerated) and eaten with a vinaigrette as a dipping sauce. This vinaigrette has a dab of Dijon mustard whipped in.
The artichokes can be eaten as a side dish or, since they are so large, as a main course. The taste is so great, and of course the tension builds as you make your way, leaf by leaf, to the artichoke heart.
Port salut cheese and sourdough bread make a great accompaniment.
Both the ancient Greeks and the Romans loved artichokes.
There are baby artichokes, egg-sized artichokes, which can be boiled and eaten whole.
Italy produces nine times as many artichokes as the US, two and a half times as many as Spain, and one and half times as many as its nearest competitor -- Egypt.
Part of a series
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Series within series, actually. Food & Cooking, for example, then -- within that -- series on vegetables, fruits, seafood, meat, etc. Books, too. Ideas, too. Travel, too. Key virtues:. pictures, clear step-by-step text. Delicious -- whether foods or ideas! All of the series, and all of the items in each series, can be found. organized by floor, at this link: Lee White's Department Store. Happy shopping! -- all of these are available for free!
Real Meal. Unlike fancy food mags, where images are hyped and food itself is secondary, all pix shown here are from a real meal, prepared and eaten by me and my friends. No throwing anything away till perfection is achieved. This is the real deal --- a Real Meal.