Artichoke Novice Needs Help
Just bought my first artichoke at the grocers the other day. I have memories of a tasty "fire-roasted artichoke" served at the Cheesecake Factory -- college friends and I used to walk up to 3 miles to indulge in one of these.
Any help as to how to cook the spiney little thing to give it that crisp-tender-slightly charred goodness I remember? I have an oven (with a broiler). No grill.
Part of what made the CF one so good was the sauce they served with it. My college-aged palette wasn't sophisticated enough to discern what went into that sauce just by taste -- any ideas?
Perhaps the reason that artichoke tasted like heaven was because it was far from the revolting "dorm food" we had to endure each day... :)
Artichokes are my reason to live.
I've never tried grilling but I know the concept. The key is that you first have to steam/microwave/cook them somehow before grilling or broiling.
The way I do it is to cut the top 1/4 or 1/3 off and the stem (which, once peeled, can be eaten, but that's another story). Then I put it in a shallow bowl with a bit of water and nuke for about 5 min. Check to see if it's done, you can always put it in for longer.
I assume that at that point, you would take it out, cut in half, take the choke out, and broil with some olive oil & seasonings until crispy/to your liking.
I think the sauce is some type of aioli?
The first steps; cut the stalk about an inch from the base, cut off the top 1/4 of the head and discard, peel away the tough petals and discard, peel into the remaining stalk until you reach the tender part, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the hairy/prickly chokes, put in water with lemon juice. Take a breather.
You can then simply steam and eat, dipping leaves in a sauce and pulling the bit of goodness from the bottom of each leaf, and finally eating the base. Or you can remove leaves, to be enjoyed later, slice up the base, and saute or...
I've never had Cheesecake Factory artichokes, but I imagine you can place it under the broiler with some olive oil. The key is probably to use fresh artichoke hearts. Here's a demo on how to clean up the fresh artichoke to get to the heart: http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/200... Then I would slice it up kind of on the thin side so it'll cook easily, and again drizzle with olive oil and maybe sprinkle some sea salt on top, then put in oven to roast or under broiler. (If you do the broiler route, be sure to watch it carefully to make sure it doesn't blacken.)
No idea about the dip. Sorry.
I just steam the artichokes. If you want the grilled-taste, you need to steam it anyway (it won't cook with just grilling/broiling without burning) and I don't have the patience to wait for another step in the cooking process. I don't bother cutting the top 1/4 off anymore, nor do I snip each leaf of its prickly thorn. I do trim the bottom tough leaves off, and cut it in half and scoop out the choke. If you cut them in half, they'll steam faster.
I guess if you want it charred, you could rub the cooked artichoke with some olive oil and broil it quickly.
Can you describe the dipping sauce CF used? I've never ordered an artichoke out, as I don't like paying $6+ for something I know I can make at home for $1. Typical dips are aoli or something mayo based. I like butter, shallots, and lemon juice or mayo/ketchup.
I agree; those artichokes are delicious. The dip makes it, I think it's more a remoulade than an aioli. Although it's definitely garlicy.
It also seems they drizzle the roasted artichokes with something flavorful and oily, a viniagrette I'd guess.
But I'd doubt you'd be able to replicate the charred aspect under the broiler. It really has to be grilled over fire. The one thing I don't like about the CF version is that they're not cooked quite enough for me; they may not steam them first.
If I were to make something like them without a grill, I'd start by cutting off top quarters and the lower part of the stem as described by others, then slicing them in half lengthwise and steaming in a basket on stovetop for 30 min or so until they're softened. Cool a bit, then with a spoon remove the fuzzy middle. I'd drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper (or a viniagrette) and broil each side to brown & crisp.
For the dip, I'd experiment with good mayo, horseradish, garlic (roasted?), chopped capers, parsley, salt & pepper, maybe a little dijon, then other things to taste like onion, lemon juice, maybe a little sour cream if it needs a little thinning...
I may try this myself! Although for easy and delicious my favorite is steamed artichokes (takes about 45 minutes when they're whole) with a dip of 1/2 olive oil, 1/2 apple cider vinegar, and a good grind of salt & pepper. Or melted butter with a good squeeze of lemon, s&p. The artichokes are awesome this time of year, and inexpensive.
I usually braise artichokes. You want to clean them up a bit first (cut them in half, scoop out the choke, remove the outermost leaves). Then essentially sear them cut side down in olive oil (you can add some butter too or instead if you want). Once they are nicely crisp, add some liquid (white wine, chicken broth, water, or amixture will do), and simmer until tender.
I usually serve with melted butter or mayo mixed with seasoned salt (that was what my bf's mom served them with, and though it sounds awful, it is strangely good).
It looks like the dish you are talking about is still on the menu at the Cheesecake Factory -- it's called "FIRE-ROASTED FRESH ARTICHOKE" and described as "Fresh Artichoke Fire-Roasted and Topped with a Spicy Vinaigrette. Served with Garlic Dip (Seasonal)"
If I were to try to replicate this dish just based on that description, I would steam the artichoke first until it was mostly done, for about 30 minutes (depending on the size), and then brush it with olive oil and throw it on the grill for a few minutes (or under the broiler if you don't have a grill).
Then, it looks like you are going to need two sauces -- a "spicy vinaigrette" and a "garlic dip."
For the "spicy vinaigrette," I would make a vinaigrette with dijon mustard, crushed garlic, white wine or champagne vinegar and vegetable oil, seasoned with salt, crushed red pepper and freshly ground black pepper. I don't really have precise measurements, but approximately 1 tsp of the mustard, maybe a 1/4 tsp salt, 1 clove garlic, 2-3 T. vinegar, 6-8 T. oil and red/black pepper to taste.
For the "garlic dip," I would make an aioli (garlic mayonnaise). Here's a link to a recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...
A large artichoke, filled with a sage-sausage-bread stuffing between the leaves, and baked upright for an hour, works.
Went ahead and cleaned, steamed, and lightly broiled my artichoke with my version of CF's "spicy vinaigrette" (olive oil, rice vinegar - it's all I had! - crushed garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes). That was all I needed - I just dipped each leaf in more of the vinaigrette and pulled it between my teeth to enjoy the fleshy goodness. Delicious. The heart and tender center of the stem were also really good.
Thanks to all who offered advice!