Grilled Artichokes with Mint and Chilies
Mario has shared this recipe with us from his book, Italian Grill.
You can prep and blanch the artichokes early in the day, then just toss them onto the grill and serve hot, sprinkled with the mint and sliced red jalapeños.
- 2 lemons, halved, divided
- 6 large artichokes, preferably with stems
- 1 bunch fresh mint, chopped, stems and all, plus about 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, cut into chiffonade (thin slivers)
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2-4 red jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup coarse sea salt
Fill a large bowl with about 6 cups water and add the juice of 1 1/2 of the lemons; add the 3 lemon halves, too. Snap off the tough outer leaves from one artichoke until you come to the leaves that are pale yellow toward the bottom. Cut off the top 1 inch of the leaves. As you work, rub the cut surfaces with the remaining lemon half. Trim off the bottom of the stem and, using a paring knife, trim away the tough outer layer from the stem. Trim any dark green parts from the bottom of the artichoke. Halve the artichoke lengthwise and, using a grapefruit spoon or small sharp spoon, remove the fuzzy choke. Pull out the small purple inner leaves. Put the trimmed artichoke in the bowl of lemon water, and repeat with the remaining artichokes.
Combine the chopped mint, garlic, olive oil, and wine in a large pot. Add the artichokes and the lemon water, along with the lemon shells, then add more water, if necessary, to cover the artichokes. Put a pan lid 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, 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the artichokes. Drain and allow to cool.
Pre-heat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.
Place the artichokes cut-side down over the hottest part of the grill and cook, unmoved, for 3-5 minutes, until nicely charred. Turn and cook for 5 more minutes, or until golden brown on the second side.
Place the artichokes on a platter and strew with the remaining mint and the jalapeños. Serve with coarse salt on the side.
About fire-roasting: Fire-roasting refers to cooking in the hot coals of a wood or charcoal fire. It’s a popular method in Italy, used to cook vegetables while a large cut of meat – or even a whole pig or lamb – cooks slowly over a fire. Whole potatoes, onions, beets, or other vegetables are placed in the coals around the perimeter of the fire to roast in their skins. Big globe artichokes are a natural for this, as the inedible outer leaves char and burn away in the heat of the fire, leaving the tender inner leaves and heart, which will have essentially steamed in their own natural juices. To cook more delicate vegetables, such as corn, fennel or new potatoes, wrap them individually in two layers of heavy-duty foil and place around the edges of the fire. After 20-30 minutes or so, depending on the vegetable, they will have an incredible, pure flavor that is almost indescribable. For a variation on the theme, add a few leaves of rosemary, summer savory or sage and a drop or two of fragrant extra virgin olive oil to each packet before roasting.