Artichokes with Mint and Chilies
I'm at the point now where I'm about 50/50 split between writing my own recipes and cooking out of books and blogs. Although I have a good degree of confidence in assembling a winning flavor combo, digging into my library is often still as eye opening of an experience as when I was first learning how to cook. Case in point, these artichokes taken from Maria Batali's Italian Grill; not only does this recipe bring together ingredients I wouldn't have considered with artichokes—mint and wine—it also gives them a boil before the grill, while I would normally jump straight to the fire. The results of all this were some the best artichokes I've ever had.
Besides the excellent recipe, the other exciting news here is it's spring, for real! I've been outside, in short sleeves, biding my time at the grill and smoker every weekend for a few weeks now. This also signals the resurgence of foods that had disappeared from diet, with artichokes being an early indicator of more green veggies soon to come.
After being trimmed down to their hearts, the artichokes were simmered in a mixture of mint, garlic, olive oil, lemon, and wine. This not only ensured they'd be cooked through and tender, but embedded them throughout with an excellent flavor.
My initial inclination for artichokes would be to cook them over indirect heat, followed by a direct cook to crisp them up. Since these were already precooked, they only needed enough time over the coals to singe the leaves, leaving a brittle, crunchy exterior.
Off the grill the artichokes were sprinkled with fresh mint and hot red peppers, then quickly enjoyed while still hot. They were really phenomenal, something I don't say that often. The initial simmer left the innards soft and infused with a pleasing lemon and mint flavor, while the crispy outsides added a contrast in texture that would have been sorely missed if these has not been grilled. The red pepper added a nice kick that seemed to make you taste all the other flavors more rather than masking them behind heat. All in all, this had to have been the best preparation of artichokes I've ever had, which is exactly why my overburden bookshelf will only continue to grow, consistently being as important to me as the creativity of my own imagination.
Artichokes with Mint and Chilies
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 10 Minutes
- Cook 25 Minutes
- Total 35 Minutes
- 6 large artichokes, trimmed
- 2 lemons, halved
- 1 bunch mint, chopped, plus about 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves cut into chiffonade
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 to 4 small red hot chili peppers, chopped fine
- Coarse sea salt
- Fill a large bowl with 6 cups of water and the juice of 1 1/2 of the lemons. As you trim the artichokes, place them in the bowl of lemon water.
- Combine the chopped mint, garlic, olive oil, and wine in a large pot. Add the artichokes and the lemon water, adding more water if necessary to cover the artichokes. Put a pan lid or plate on top of the artichokes to keep them submerged and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the artichokes. Drain and allow to cool.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over the charcoal grate. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place the artichokes, cut side down, over the hottest part of the grill and cook, unmoved, for 3 to 5 minutes, until nicely charred. Turn and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 5 minutes more.
- Remove the artichokes from the grill to a platter and sprinkle with the remaining mint and peppers. Serve with a bowl of coarse salt.
Adapted from Italian Grill by Mario Batali
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Mike Oh wow...I love artichokes and these sound great. You are so right too, I am so glad spring is here. For us, it makes grilling outside much, much more enjoyable!
Chris Bookmarked! I like how the flavor of artichokes make my eyes wince and mouth water.