The artichoke paradox (and a recipe)

It struck me recently that many of the most delicious things I’ve eaten involve artichokes.

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An artichoke grows in Brooklyn (or Manhattan…or California)

The paquetitos de jamón at Tía Pol are filled with a purée of artichoke and manchego. Their white asparagus salad is topped with crispy little fried artichoke hearts. At my mother’s Christmas cocktail party she serves these fantastic puff pastry spirals spread with artichoke dip. Hillstone serves an amazing grilled artichoke with a side of remoulade sauce. Then, there’s artichoke dip itself–not spinach artichoke dip, but plain, cheesy, decadent artichoke dip. Are you hungry yet?

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Artichokes, it would seem, are a fairly commonplace vegetable prepared and served in a variety of ways. It’s not unusual to find artichokes on a menu, year-round.

But here’s the paradox: once a year when spring arrives, they start showing up in grocery stores in their natural form and you come across one and it’s like: What IS this alien thing!? How do I cook it? How in god’s name am I expected to eat it?

Am I the only person who has this reaction? All of a sudden I see one and it’s all spiky and green and inedible-looking and I’m completely fascinated by it…fascinated, and slightly afraid.

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Well, fear not you would-be artichoke enthusiasts: I have conquered the artichoke in its natural form, and am about to show you my ways.

(Actually, it wasn’t that hard. And I definitely just googled “how to roast an artichoke” so, there’s that.)

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IMG_6203Not only did I successfully roast a whole artichoke, but I tracked down an approximation of the remoulade they serve at Hillstone. Sometime soon, we’ll talk about my belief in the restorative powers of Hillstone–it’s like time traveling back to the days of 3 martini lunches in a place where they serve shoestring fries and spicy mayo on tap.

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You can keep your butter and lemon juice; I’ll take this remoulade any day.

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How to roast an artichoke
(Many other blogs will tell you how to do this; I specifically learned from Pinch of My Salt)

1 artichoke (or two or three or four)
2 small garlic cloves, peeled
Kosher salt
1/2 lemon
Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Cut off the top third of the artichoke; this part is inedible and opens up the artichoke so it will roast better. Cut off the stem as well. You can peel it and roast it to eat or you can toss it, your call.

Tear off a piece of tin foil large enough to wrap up the artichoke. Place the tin foil on a baking sheet, spread a little olive oil on it and place the artichoke in the middle, leaves pointing up.

Take your garlic cloves and tuck them into the artichoke, somewhere in the inner third. Sprinkle/grind salt over the artichoke, squeeze lemon juice over it, and drizzle in olive oil.

Wrap up the artichoke in the tin foil, making sure it’s sealed tightly. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 1 hour for a smaller artichoke, or 1 hour and 15-20 minutes for a larger artichoke. I baked mine for an hour and it was perfect.

Pinch of salt also has some advice on finding, identifying and de-furring the artichoke heart which I recommend you check out if you’re a nube to artichoke consumption.

Remoulade dipping sauce
(inspired by Hillstone, adapted from Against All Grain with input from Food.com)

2 tablespoons mayonnaise*
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed or minced
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped capers
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix. Serve right away or chill until ready to eat.

*I recently heard the cofounder of Sir Kensington’s condiments speak and not only is their story fascinating (from “ketchup parties” at Brown to disrupting the relatively staid condiment space to only using healthful, non-GMO and responsibly sourced ingredients) but their stuff tastes grrrreat. Not pictured below: the mayonnaise. In its place: the crack sauce special sauce they sell that you’ve probably had on a couple burgers across town (think Bareburger, PJ Clarke’s, Spotted Pig).

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Recipes:

How to Roast Whole Artichokes: http://pinchmysalt.com/how-to-roast-whole-artichokes/
Remoulade dipping sauce: http://againstallgrain.com/2011/10/25/grilled-aritchokes-with-zesty-dipping-sauce-paleo-scd/
http://www.food.com/recipe/houstons-grilled-artichokes-with-remoulade-385268

 

 

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