Sunday, March 30, 2014

Broiled Artichokes

I love artichokes!!  Right now, I believe Artichokes are coming into season because they look awesome and the price is low, $.99 each for large.

I don't cook them often enough.  In the past, I have made this really neat recipe for oven baked stuffed artichokes from a Tuscany The Beautiful Cookbook that I own.  The leaves are pulled apart and stuffed with milk soaked bread.  They are sealed tightly and baked.  I will have make them soon and share that recipe with you.

A few months ago while in Baton Rouge, I ate at J. Alexanders for lunch.  The food was delicious, btw!!  The Fired-Grilled Artichoke appetizer was outstanding!  Additionally, about 10 years ago, I ate at The Cheesecake Factory in Maryland.  There, I had also ordered an artichoke appetizer that was wonderful, similar to the fire-grilled variety, but served with reduced balsamic glaze.

As a kid, when my mother brought home artichokes, we cooked them in seasoned water with Lemon, Olive oil, salt and whole peppercorns.  Once done, we ate them while standing around the kitchen counter.  We simply pulled the leaves off, one at a time, and dipped the leaves in melted butter.

The inspiration for today's recipe comes from all of those experiences and spans the many years. So today, I am going to make up a recipe that combines the two preparations.  Artichokes take time to cook and are inedible if undercooked.  I feel that broiling alone will leave them undercooked, so I am cooking them first and broiling them later.

I am working with 2 large Artichokes. First, using a very sharp knife (I just sharpened mine 2 days ago) remove them bottom outside set of leaves since they can be tough.  Next, trim the stem so the artichoke is flat on the bottom.  Trim 1/2" off the tops of the leaves and using a spoon, clean cut the very center of the fine purple leaves and try to remove the parts that resemble "hair".  They are very fine fibers.  Soak them in water to rinse while you are working.

To a pot, add enough water that the chokes will be covered.  Add the squeeze of 4 lemon wedges then drop the wedges in the pot.  Add 1/4 Olive Oil, 1 tsp Salt, and 20-30 peppercorns.  The peppercorns can be any color you choose.  Add the artichokes and heat over medium until simmering.  Cook for about 35-45 minutes, depending on the size.  Remove from water, let cool for 5 minutes (up until now can be made ahead).  Once cool enough to handle, cut the artichokes in quarters.  Place on a sheet pan, cut side up. 

Make an herbed butter by combining 3 Tbl Softened Butter, 1 Minced Shallot, Salt and Pepper, Fresh Parsley.   Add the butter to the cut side of the artichoke and try to get some in between the layers.

Preheat the broiler and when hot add the artichokes and cook for 5-7 minutes until browned.  While broiling, add 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar and 1/4 tsp Sugar to a saucepan.  Reduce over medium heat for a few minutes until thickened.  Place the artichokes on a platter and drizzle with Olive Oil and Vinegar.  Eat right away with warm crusty bread.

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