Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Grilled artichokes - first timer experience

Growing up I was that weird kid who loved eating their vegetables. I had a love affair with my broccoli and brussels sprouts. My mom recalls me just biting in a raw onion like it was just an apple and enjoying it which delighted my mom because she can then show my aunt who despises them. The only thing I wouldn't eat is cauliflower because it just looked so bland and just why the hell is it white? As kids my mom had always tried to introduce us to new things and one strange looking veggie all of us could agree on was artichoke.

I remember her prepping and steaming them for us and teaching us to scrape off the "meat" on the leaves with our teeth. Mom liked dipping hers in mayo with fresh chopped garlic. I liked it with a side of lemon butter since I have always thought mayo was disgusting. But the artichokes themselves were filling and tasted wonderful. It was work but getting to the hearts was my absolute favorite part and still is to this day.

As I have grown older and discovered pub food, I was delighted to find grilled artichokes amongst the sliders and pretzels. It brought me back to being a kid and watching cartoons with my yummy artichokes. While others swooned over their adult versions of mac and cheese with truffles or lobster, I swooned over grilled artichokes served with a garlic aioli or Siracha ranch.

So I found myself some recipes and scanned through them, picked the best from each and I'm offering you what I learned from my first time experience.

First, most recipes, if not all of them, tell you to cut the artichoke first and scrape out the unnecessary insides and then steam them. I know some might think it would be easier to slice into these things after it was steamed and I think it would be true. BUT...have you ever tried cutting into something and scraping out the insides while it was hot? I wouldn't attempt it. The best way to cut them open is from the stem to tip, then I advise to put them in water with squeezed lemons to prevent browning. I myself rubbed lemon over the cut part but found it still got a little brown.

After cutting them open, steam them to get them cooked through. It makes sense because it would take forever to just grill them straight from the cutting board.

While they're steaming get a small pot and melt down a little butter and some olive oil. Equal parts is best and then throw in some dried spices. I myself used dried onion and garlic powder both of those unsalted, some dried thyme, that generic bottle that says "Italian seasonings" and a little cayenne and pepper for a kick. Then I cooked it on low so I wouldn't burn the oil and butter and to help bloom the Flavors of the dried seasonings. Without letting the seasonings get warm and marry with the butter mix you won't get as much flavor.

Once you're done steaming the artichokes, place on cookie sheet and spoon the herbed butter over the front and back. Makes sure it gets in between the leaves so the Flavors get trapped. This step is crucial because this adds so much flavor you really don't need a dipping sauce at all. When you're done, place on a hot grill over medium heat and grill until you get those yummy char marks. Once you see it get toasty, remove from grill, let them cool off a little then enjoy!

I will defiantly be doing this again and will document for future reference! It was more work than usual but I enjoyed the challenge and I think the extra work is worth the extra effort.

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