Artichokes are a natural for grilling. Their outer leaves aren’t edible, so they char away on the outsides while the insides get smoky-sweet. Serve them with a dipping sauce that adds a kick while also cooling things down, such as yogurt mixed with fresh mint, hot red chiles, a dash of vinegar, and a pinch each of salt and sugar.
Dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
Prepare a grill. Cut artichokes in half and scrape or cut out the chokes. Blanch them until barely soft in a mixture of half water and half dry white wine, with just enough liquid to cover them. (The wine is optional, but adds a little something special.) Remove and drain, then coat the artichokes thoroughly in olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat, about 5 minutes per side, then cook over indirect heat for about 10 minutes. Turn every so often, until the outsides are charred and the insides are tender. Remove the burnt parts. Serve hot with a cool sauce.
You can also cook whole artichokes directly in the hot embers of a fire, a common practice in Southern Italy and the Mediterranean. Cut off the top third and fan open the leaves. Fill the artichokes up with olive oil, and bury them upright about a third of the way up from their bottoms in the hot embers. Large artichokes will take about 20 minutes this way. William Rubel, author of The Magic of Fire, likes to slide thin slivers of garlic and sprigs of rosemary between the leaves before roasting them, and he advises that the coals should be “just shy of a heat so intense that it is difficult to perform these actions.” Feel free to put a juicy cut of pork on a grate over the artichoke as it cooks. The classic and fascinating 1938 French cooking text Larousse Gastronomique lists an astonishing number of preparations of artichokes that contain some manner of pork fat.
Photo by Tim Nauman Photography