Sunday, May 18, 2014

Artichokes: Grilling the Globe



The opposite of the baby artichoke is the giant globe. Years ago when I lived California, artichokes were a plentiful and relatively cheap staple, and were common on the restaurant menus and friends’ tables. I lived not too far from Castroville, the “artichoke capital of the world,” and would go to the annual fair and eat them, large and small, every which way. I took them rather for granted.

Since then—and it has been a very long time—I have largely bought artichokes when they looked particularly good, and were at a particularly good price, in the market. This was not all that often. When I lived in Nashville, I discovered a grilled artichoke at Bricktop’s that became one of my mainstays in that otherwise food-bereft and regressive Deep South town. Bricktop’s is a chain, which tells you something about the food scene in Nashville at the time, but it was a good, reliable place, and it and its grilled artichoke became something of a comfort to me during my years there. I would often stop in after teaching late—until 7:30 p.m.—on a Thursday night, the end of my teaching week, and order a grilled artichoke and a glass of red wine. That grilled artichoke, served with melted butter and remoulade (they have since switched to aioli, apparently), remains for me the gold standard of grilled artichokes.

So of course, I try to make mine taste just the same. While I don’t have their superhot restaurant grill, I can come pretty close. Here is how to do it, using globe artichokes purchased for $1.00 each at my local supermarket. They are a sign or spring. Like the gila monster, who comes out around the same time of year, and has similarly vicious tendencies in its natural state

Grilled Artichokes with American Remoulade

I like to have an artichoke all to myself, and make a meal out of it. If following with a steak, half an artichoke per person will do. And you can dip it into anything creamy mayonnaise-based sauce that suits your fancy: aioli, lemon mayo, ranch dressing, or this Americanized version (minus capers and cornichons) of remoulade. Just be sure you make it fresh.

1 artichoke per person                


Lemon juice
Flour

Olive oil
Salt and pepper

American Remoulade

1 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
1 1/2 T mixed tarragon, parsley, chervil, chive; the tarragon and parsley are essential
1 T Dijon mustard or more to taste
1 anchovy filet, mashed, or 1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 tea minced shallot
Drop or two Tabasco sauce
1-2 tea lemon juice to thin
Salt and pepper

Lemon wedges
Melted butter


Trim the stems of large artichokes to about ½” and remove any loose lower leaves. Using a sharp knife, square off the top of the artichoke, cutting across the top spines, and then, using sharp kitchen shears, cut off the tops of the other leaves, removing all spines.  Put a few inches of water in a 3-4 qt saucepan with a lid, add a little lemon juice and a sprinkling of flour, and place in the artichokes, stems down, so the artichokes are touching and remain upright. Bring to a boil, covered, then reduce the heat and steam until you can pierce through the center straight to the bottom with a sharp knife, about 15­-20 minutes. Do not overcook.

Remove, allow to cool, then cut in half vertically. With a spoon, remove and discard the fuzzy choke. Combine all the remoulade ingredients to taste and set aside.


Brush the artichokes with olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper.  Grill face-down on a hot grill for 5 minutes; turn to grill  for another 3-5 minutes, until nicely charred. Serve with lemon wedges, the sauce, and some melted butter or more olive oil mixed with salt and pepper for dipping.


2 comments:

racheld said...

Never had a grilled artichoke, but we love them in all their incarnations---even the little slumpy canned hearts, which make a lovely warm crab dip when they're dried a bit on a paper towel, chopped, then mixed with a bit of crushed garlic, a spoonclop of mayo, and a cup or so of fresh-grated Parm, with one of the pound cans of lump crabmeat from Sam's.

A little session in a gratin in the oven, some pita chips or crudité for dipping, and that's a gather-round party.

We've even gone at it hind-side to, with everything BUT the artichokes, then some fresh-steamed leaves for dipping.

That remoulade looks scrumptious.

I'm envisioning you now, in the not-quite-July of Little Compton, thinking of your Fourth festivities. I always see you in a Summer dress and sandals, heading out a white gate to the picnic, with a just-made-this-morning berry pie, the luscious juices all bubbled up around the cut-out stars in the crust, and the whole thing under a pretty cloth to match the lining of the carry-basket.

I think that's how I imagine your whole life, in a place so remote to my own ken, in that magical atmosphere of a place called Little Compton.

Hope you're having a marvelous Summer!

Jane said...

I love the little canned ones too--probably the first way I had them.

Do keep envisioning me here in RI with a pie--it is a magical place, but really not at all my "real" life except for a few blessed summer weeks. And as you will see, I have moved across the bay this somewhere.