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Traditionally, the California crop can be simply boiled or steamed. Then, each leaf dipped in hollandaise, butter, mayonnaise...

Artichokes? On the Grill?

Traditionally, the California crop can be simply boiled or steamed. Then, each leaf dipped in hollandaise, butter, mayonnaise, or some other sauce before its flesh is scraped and the fibrous layer is discarded. Imagine, though, the crispy texture and smoky flavor imparted by treating the morsel over the grill. Then, imagine a rich, savory coating glazed on each leaf. Interested?

While the vegetable can be grilled as-is, low and slow for an hour or so, most grillmasters suggest getting more creative. Two large artichokes should be halved or quartered before grilling. Six to eight medium artichokes are easier to grill and baste, since they can be grilled whole. Often, the spiny leaf tips (about 1/4 of the leaf) are removed with scissors. Stems should be cut so that the bulb can sit flat on the grill. Rubbing all exposed ends with cut lemon (or a quick bath in lightly lemon-aciduated water) will help keep the flesh from discoloration. Also, spreading the leaves gently apart will help trap the basting sauce.

Meanwhile, a simple sauce is prepared, starting with 3/4 to 1 cup of olive oil or butter, 4-6 minced or pressed garlic cloves, and minced fresh herbs (typically about 1/4 cup of curly or Italian parsley). Saute the garlic in the oil or butter on the stove top just until fragrant; avoid burning the garlic. Finish the sauce with the juice rendered from the remaining lemon.

Cooking the artichokes can be accomplished in a couple of ways. The all-grill approach is to set the bulbs stem-down onto a medium-low grill, baste them with the garlic sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Then, the bulbs are frequently turned (and also inverted) and basted with more of the garlic sauce. After 1 to 1.25 hours, the artichokes should be a deep golden, with easily removed leaves and a crisp texture. Coals should be added as necessary to keep the temperature steady. After a final basting and seasoning, the veggies are ready to be served.. no dipping sauce necessary.

Alternatively, the bulbs can be boiled for 15 minutes and drained. Then, they are basted, turned, and seasoned in the same manner over medium-high heat. Given the short grilling time, there may be leftover garlic sauce to serve as a dip.

©2011 K. D. Scholten Co.