We first had Grilled Artichokes at a restaurant in Tampa, Florida called J. Alexanders. One of those centered around the wood-fired grill sort of places. Upon walking in the door, the restaurant is open to a massive 1,000-degree wood-fired grill. Chefs using a combination of exceptionally long tongs and speed tend to any variety of meats and vegetables on the grates. This restaurant is a favorite of my wife’s parents, it is sort of “New American grill, that is almost a steakhouse” vibe. It harkens “Rat Pack” but in an almost Havana pre-revolution way. It’s a cool joint. Stiff drinks, wood-fired everything, and a low light romantic atmosphere.
But those ‘chokes.…
Of all the things on the menu, we loved the Grilled Artichokes. In actuality, what we really enjoyed was the smokey char and a tangy marinated undertone the Grilled Artichokes brought. I had to really experiment with these to get it correct. My wife never complained, but certainly was effusive on which she preferred. This is the culmination of those efforts. Grilled Artichokes are a wonderful elegant dish, but you can eat them with your hands, which is really cool. Buying them is the trick, look for the bright green, undamaged ones with the tight petals. Note this is a flower bud we are eating, not a leaf, and the stem is very edible, so try to get a nice long stem.
The key I found was to marinate them for a good long while, pre-boil. This way the tangy flavor is just a hint, not overpowering. I have tried post boil, but it was too strong. Also, because of the longer marinade time, I prefer rice wine vinegar to lemon juice.
What is an artichoke anyway?
Come to think of it, I have never actually seen an artichoke blossom, but I imagine it looks like a magnolia blossom, the buds are so similar. Of course, I love artichokes so much I have often wondered if I could eat a magnolia bud in the same way. Okay, I just googled it, the blooms actually look nothing like a Magnolia, an artichoke is essentially a prehistoric sized thistle. Probably don’t want to eat a magnolia bud, that’s actually a really bad idea. No wait, just googled that too, turns out Magnolia blossoms can be pickled and eaten. Wait, I have a magnolia in the yard, I’ll switch to organic fertilizer, and try that out in about a year. I learn every day, but I digress, back to Grilled Artichokes.
Hot, like real hot-hot!
The final key is heat, get that grill really, really hot. Artichokes are thick, heavy and when you are done full of liquid, you need heat. Gas grill on high, Webbers and briquette grill in the center. Hot I say, HOT! Finally serve with salt, on the bud, put salt bowl not the table, extra salt is perfect for dredging. We like these so much we make Grilled Artichokes and it is our entire dinner.
These Grilled Artichokes make a wonderful side dish or starter, we hope you enjoy these as much as we do.
- 1/2 Artichoke Per Guest. More if you want to make a meal of them
- 1/8 cup 30 ML rice wine vinegar (white wine vinegar will do)
- Fill to 1/2 cup 120 ml with Olive Oil
- Garlic Oil Drizzle
- 3 cloves of garlic chopped
- 1/2 cup 120 ml olive oil
Snip all the sharp thorny ends of of the lower petals, remove any leaves on the stems. Using peeler, peel the stem of the outer layer of skin, and slice just the tip off the stem.
Slice each choke in half, taking care to slice the stem evenly if you can.
Whisk the Oil and vinegar with a fork to incorporate
Drizzle a small amount of marinade on the petals then flip over and pour the remaining evenly over the open side thaking care to get in the petals as well.
Cover and let marinate for 2-6 hours
Bring a pot with just enough water to cover a steamer basket to boil.
Heat garlic and oil on sauce pan infusing with flavor, do not brown the garlic much, remove from heat.
Place the chokes cut side up in the steaming pot, cover and steam for 12 minutes.
Carefully remove from the pot and let cool until you can handle them.
Using a spoon carefully remove the colorful thistle bloom in the center it comes out pretty easily.
Fire up that grill to really hot.
Cover the back and front of the choke with a little garlic oil reserving the remainder, and place each on the grill cut side down.
Grill for 4-5 minutes.
Flip cut side up, remove from the grill and pour the remaining oil into the choke. Taking care not to spill or burn your hands.
Grill for 10-12 minutes.
Remove carefully, flip the choke over placing cut side down, but be sure any liquid in the center is poured on the plate.
Sprinkle with salt, put more on the table or each plate for dredging.
Eating an Artichoke All this work and I'm about to break your heart. Only a small portion of a Grilled Artichoke is edible. Think of it as like a blue crab, not much meat but so worth it. Lift a petal, and scrape the inside bottom with your teeth, what does not come off is waste. The deeper in you go the more that is edible, you will be an expert in no time. When all the petals are gone you can eat the heart with a knife and fork, stem and all. We serve them cut side down, as the flavor intensifies as you move to the center. You will find Grilled Artichokes are a big buildup food, with a delicious pay off.
Easting an Artichoke
All this work and I’m about to break your heart. Only a small portion of a Grilled Artichoke is edible. Think of it like a blue crab, not much meat but so worth it. Lift a petal, and scrape the inside bottom with your teeth, what does not come off is waste. The deeper in you go the more that is edible, you will be an expert in no time. When all the petals are gone you can eat the heart with a knife and fork, stem and all. We serve them cut side down, as the flavor intensifies as you move to the center. You will find Grilled Artichokes are a big buildup food, with a delicious payoff.