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Grilled Artichokes with Lemon and Herbs

To Start:

  • an onion, rough chopped

  • a carrot, rough chopped

  • a few tablespoons of Pernod or 1/2 cup white wine (the Pernod is stronger than the wine)

  • fennel tops, if you got 'em

  • a couple cloves of garlic

  • 2 tablespoons of pickling spice-- or a good combo of spices in your cabinet: clove, coriander, mustard seed, bay leaves, allspice, peppercorns... stuff like that

  • 6 large artichokes

  • To Finish:

  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

  • A couple tablespoons of lemon zest

  • a few tablespoons of chopped "soft" herbs-- like mint, parsley, basil, scallions, or chives- preferably a mix

  • zest from 2 lemons, then halve the lemons

Make a "tea" with the onion, carrot, spices and Pernod/white wine and enough water to submerge the artichokes. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for about a half hour. Strain the broth into a new pot, discarding the used vegetables and spices (you can skip this step, but know your artichokes may have spices and perhaps a stray piece of onion stuck amongst their leaves when you go to eat them). Add enough salt so that it tastes like the ocean. Squeeze lemons into the pot and throw them in too. Crank the heat back up to a strong simmer.

Cut stem off the artichokes, leaving about 1 inch. Snap off outer 2 rows of leaves. Cut off top 1/3 of artichokes. Halve them lengthwise. Using small knife, cut out chokes and prickly small leaves. Repeat with remaining artichokes (Here's what I never understood: In restaurants and culinary school, they always make a big deal about keeping raw artichokes in acidulated water to prevent browning. But guess what? When you cook them, they turn that army, "artichoke" green no matter what), not freaking out that they are turning a little brown while you work.

Add the artichokes to the pot, and boil until crisp-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain. Transfer artichokes to rack and cool. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Whisk oil and 1/3 cup lemon juice. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Brush artichokes with dressing. Grill until tender and lightly charred in spots, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes. Transfer artichokes to platter. Drizzle with some of remaining dressing, and sprinkle with lemon zest and herbs. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Happy Spring!

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