We all have those “scary foods”. The things we’re afraid to make because we failed at it once before, or because as my Uncle said to my Aunt upon his first bite, “This is not how my Mother made her pot roast”, or because we’ve just freaked ourselves out that they are “hard” and there they loom in the back of our subconscious, little culinary demons teasing and taunting us when we least expect it.
Mine are rich, indulgent foods that I’ve enjoyed at multi-course dinners and wish I could ask for seconds of, if only that were acceptable. They are foie gras, and sea urchin, and carpaccio and all generally politically incorrect and offensive foods. Up until a while ago hollandaise was also on that list, but I’m proud to say I triumphed over that one with a little help from my friend Chelsey, and a big pile of Crab Cake Eggs Benedict.
Alas, I digress. We all have our culinary ghosts, and it’s easy to become paralyzed by them.
“Oh no…I never cook pork.”
“I can’t make a pie! Are you crazy?”
“You want me to de-vein what?”
The truth is you can, and you should. Cooking at its most basic form is just reading, and with a little confidence, and liquid courage to boot, you’d be surprised what you can accomplish in the kitchen.
Rumor has it artichokes are top of many people’s Scary Foods List. Perhaps it’s their prickly exterior. Or the stupid $3 a piece price tag at the local organic market. Maybe it’s how long they take to eat, or how long they take to cook. Whatever the reason, I’m here to tell you that You. Can. Cook. Artichokes.
This recipe is for steamed and then grilled artichokes served with a Caesar inspired aioli. That said, there are countless things you can do with artichokes, so once you master this try exploring and seeing what else you’d like to do now that you’ve conquered your culinary mountain and are standing proudly on top.
What are your other Scary Foods?
Grilled Artichokes with Caesar Aioli
Tip: Costco sells artichokes very affordably (about $5 for a bag of 4).
- Thoroughly rinse artichokes to remove any dirt.
- Many recipes suggest cutting off any prickly tips of the leaves, but I seldom do because I’m lazy, and I don’t think it’s necessary. If you do want to cut off the tips, grab a pair of kitchen scissors and cut off about ½ inch of each tip, so it’s no longer sharp and pointy.
- Trim the stem so it’s about 1” long.
- Fill a large pot with water, set a steamer basket in the bottom, and add the artichoke(s), tops facing up.
- Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to maintain boil.
- They will start to emit a delicious smell after about 10 minutes, but they typically take 30 – 45 minutes to cook pending on the size, and what level heat you’ve got it at. I’m impatient, so I tend to keep my heat very high and just occasionally add more water to make sure there’s enough in the pan.
- To test the artichokes, try pulling off an inner leaf. If it comes off easily, try eating the meat of the leaf via scraping your teeth along. It should be tender, yet not mushy, although you don’t want it to have any real “bite” to it. If it’s not done, add back to water and test again at 5 minute intervals.
- Meanwhile, preheat grill to high, clean grates, and rub with a bit of olive oil on a paper towel.
- Once the artichokes are done cut in half and allow to cool slightly.
- Using a spoon (a grapefruit spoon works well because of the serration) scrape out the “choke” or that scary fuzzy stuff inside. Everything you don’t want should come out fairly easily, but if not you could easily cut it out via tracing the perimeter with a knife.
- Add to grill and without moving so you’ll get those sexy grill marks cook until slightly charred about 3-5 minutes.
- Serve with Caesar Aioli, which I just did a Caesar Dressing for and then pureed a bit longer to thicken up. Would also be delicious served with some melted butter and lemon juice.