Friday, February 22, 2013

Roasted Artichokes with Red Pepper Aioli

Roasted Artichokes with Red Pepper Aioli


Artichokes have been bestowed with a wrapping of elegance for far too long. Even Julia Child, in 1995, referred to the Artichoke as a “luxury” (The Way To Cook by Julia Child). But now Artichokes are readily available at almost any time of the year and it’s time for them to shed that mantle of uppity-ness and assume their rightful position as the king... of finger food!  Let’s face it; there are no utensils better designed than your fingers with which to eat an Artichoke.

Roasting Artichokes makes the perfect starting place for so many variations, from this minimalist recipe to Artichokes stuffed with all kinds of deliciousness. Steaming is probably the more conventional cooking method for the preparation of Artichokes. Even steaming takes quite a long time so I really prefer to roast and make sure that none of the Artichoke’s flavors are lost to the boiling water.

I’m presenting the Artichoke here as a vegetable side dish, but this versatile thistle can also take center stage with very little effort on your part. Check out my easy steps for stuffing an Artichoke in Tips and Trending at the end of the recipe.

Eat with your hands anytime you get the chance and um... have a lot of napkins handy!


Roasted Artichokes with Red Pepper Aioli
Serves: 2     Preparation Time: 20 Minutes     Cooking Time: 1-1 ¼ Hours



Ingredients

• 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
• 2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar 
• 2 Egg Yolks
• 1½ Cups Olive Oil + 1 Tablespoon
• 1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper, chopped
• ½ Lemon
• 1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
• 2 Large Globe Artichokes


Preparation Steps

Step 1. In a food processor put 2 cloves of the minced Garlic, White Wine Vinegar, and the Egg yolks. Start the food processor and when everything is combined, slowly drizzle in
cups of the Olive Oil in a steady stream until blended. Add the Roasted Red Pepper and pulse until smooth. Put the Aioli into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Step 2. Preheat oven to 425ºF

Step 3. Rinse the Artichokes, spreading the petals to flush out any debris. Cut about ½” off the top of the Artichoke and trim ¼” from the bottom of the stem. Pull off and discard any of the outer most petals that are growing from the stem or those that are split. Use shears to cut the spiny tips from the remaining petals. Use a vegetable peeler to trim away only the outermost tough layer of the stem. Rub all of the cut edges of the Artichokes, including the stem, with the ½ Lemon to prevent browning.

Step 4. Spread the petals and sprinkle Salt and Pepper and the 2 remaining cloves of the minced
Raw ArtichokesGarlic between the petals. Drizzle ½ teaspoon of Balsamic Vinegar and ½ tablespoon of Olive Oil between the petals of each Artichoke. Squeeze the ½ Lemon over the center of all the Artichokes. Wrap each Artichoke in aluminum foil, sealing tightly and place directly on middle rack in preheated oven for 1 hour. Add another 15 minutes if the Artichokes are “jumbo” sized. Carefully remove the Artichokes from the foil wraps and allow them to cool slightly so you can handle them.

Step 5.
Cut the slightly cooled Artichokes in half through the stem to the top. Scoop out all the fuzzy “choke” and discard. Season the exposed interior with Salt and Pepper.

Step 6. Heat a grill pan over medium heat and brush lightly with olive oil. Lay the Artichokes cut side down in the hot pan and cook without disturbing for 2 minutes until grill marks appear.

Serve the Artichokes with the cut side facing up and a dollop of Aioli in each. Serve an additional small bowl of the Aioli with each serving.


Tips and Trending


~ Although Artichokes might be available at your local market year ‘round, they’re really only in their best form from early spring through late summer. Whenever you buy Artichokes look for the petals to be closed tightly together and the whole thistle should feel firm when you apply pressure to the sides. Avoid any Artichokes with stems that are shriveled or are cut off completely. If you can’t find a decent Artichoke, find something else to cook. Happily in the winter months you may be able to find Jerusalem Artichokes to at least satisfy your craving for the unique Artichoke taste

~  Always provide a bowl or bowls on the table for discarded artichoke petals.

~  If you have concerns about using raw egg yolks in the aioli, combine 2 cloves of the garlic, and the roasted red pepper with 1½ cups of mayonnaise and allow to meld, covered, at room temperature while you prepare the artichokes.

~  Another dipping sauce suggestion: melt ½ cup of butter (¼ pound) with a couple of smashed cloves of garlic and keep it warm, but not bubbling while you cook the artichokes. Remove the garlic and whisk in a tablespoon of lemon juice and a dash of ground cayenne pepper.

~  To stuff an Artichoke, remove the stem completely during the initial cleaning steps. Remove the fuzzy choke before cooking by spreading the outer center petals apart and pulling out the smaller crown of petals that cover the choke. Use a melon baller to scrape and scoop out the choke and then make sure to rinse the artichoke thoroughly to flush out any remaining choke hairs. Make a bread crumb stuffing by chopping up the removed stems and sautéing them in a ½ cup of unsalted butter along with ½ cup of minced scallions and two minced cloves of garlic. Add 2 cups of dry bread crumbs, stir to combine and cook until the bread crumbs begin to toast. Remove from the heat and mix with 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese until completely blended. Divide the breadcrumb mixture between the artichokes, filling the center of each first and the stuffing the mixture between the petals. Drizzle each stuffed artichoke with a tablespoon of olive oil then wrap in foil and set the wrapped artichokes upright on a baking sheet and bake according to the recipe.

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