I don’t know about you, but artichokes are a little intimidating to me. Up until last year, I had never eaten a fresh one. In fact, the only exposure I had to them came from bottled artichoke hearts. This changed last year at an AMICI dinner here in Austin, TX at Carmelo’s Italian Restaurant. We had the pleasure of sharing our table with Carmelo himself and he taught us how to eat a stuffed artichoke.
Last year we prepared a couple of stuffed artichokes and they did turn out great but I just purchased some from the new Trader Joe’s in Austin and wanted to try something different. I was surprised that I found some recipes to grill them but then again, it seems like you can find a recipe to cook just about anything on the grill if you look hard enough. This time I really wanted to try something with fresh mint because I just bought a mint plant for the patio. I found a few recipes so I just borrowed from all of them to create a recipe I wanted to try. I also learned that this is a traditional preparation from Rome, where they use a lot of mint.
- 4 artichokes
- 2 lemons
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoon mint, chopped
First, get a bowl of cold water and add the juice of 2 lemons. I know fresh lemons are best, but we didn’t have any so I used lemon juice concentrate, about 2 tablespoons.
Cut off the top 1/3 of the artichoke and the bottom of the stem. Some people said to cut off all but 1 inch of the stem, however, I just cut of the bottom 1/4 inch and left the rest. It tasted great so I don’t recommend cutting it completely off. Next, snip off the sharp points of the leaves and pull off the tiny leaves near the base of the artichoke. If you have the lemons, rub the cut parts of the artichoke with your lemon to keep it from turning brown. Otherwise, just move on to the next step, which is to soak the artichokes in the lemon water mixture for about 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, rinse the artichokes and then place them in a steamer basket over simmering water and allow them to cook for 25 to 35 minutes, until the heart is tender.
Once steamed, allow them to cool. The picture above is one I took while out artichokes were cooling. Notice that they lose their bright green color during the steaming process and take on a camo-ish color. While the artichoke are cooling, prepare the butter mixture. Melt the butter in a glass bowl in your microwave or on the stove. Then add the olive oil, minced garlic and mint and then mix it thoroughly.
The, cut in half length wise and remove the fuzzy choke. I used a pairing knife along the bottom to give it a clean cut and then a spoon to scoop it out. This way, you don’t risk losing any of the tender heart. Now, brush all sides of each artichoke with the butter mixture. Try to get it under the leaves as you are brushing it by gently lifting the leaves and separating them. Save the remaining butter mixture for dipping at your table.
Grill the artichokes for 8 minutes under medium heat. You can vary the time a little depending on your grill. Start with the leaf side down and check them after 4 minutes. They should have a golden color with nice grill marks. Then, turn them over and repeat. This side will probably cook a little faster so keep an eye on them. One you pull them off the grill, you can drizzle them with some of the remaining butter. Serve them warm or at room temp.