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Grilled Artichokes

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Although widely consumed in Mediterranean cultures, artichokes are often avoided elsewhere in the world. Nevertheless, artichokes are simple to cook, fun to eat, and provide many important nutrients (several different minerals, vitamin C, and dietary fiber). An excellent way to prepare artichokes is to steam them, but in this article, I'll also discuss one of my favorite appetizers: grilled artichokes.

An artichoke is the bud of a thistle plant with seemingly inedible thorny "leaves" (properly called bracts) protecting a mass of tough (and often sharp) florets. Artichokes (more properly known as Globe artichokes or French artichokes) have no relation to Jerusalem artichokes or Chinese artichokes (both of which are tubers consumed as root vegetables).

Cutting open the artichoke reveals its anatomy - which has already been color coded for us. The green areas are tough and inedible (the bracts that form the outer layers of the artichoke). Yellow areas are mostly edible. These include the meaty base of each bract (where it connects to the base or receptacle at the top of the stem), inner soft bracts, the receptacle (referred to as the heart), and the interior of the stem. Purple and white (the area directly under the purple) means "Don't Eat Me" - these are what would have become the purple thistle if the artichoke was allowed to fully mature.

Let's take a closer look at the center of the artichoke. The fleshy recepticle at the top of the stem where all the bracts and the florets (the choke) attach to is called the heart. The choke is inedible, so needs to be removed either before cooking or while eating.

I start preparing grilled artichokes the same way as I prepare them for steaming. I typically start by getting an inch of water boiling in a pot with a steamer insert as I prepare the artichokes.

Prep the artichokes by using a pair of kitchen shears to cut off the thorny tips of each of the bracts. Cut about 1/4 of the bract off during this operation. This is done as a courtesy to the diner's fingers (and it makes the artichoke look nice).

Once the bracts have been trimmed, use a large, sharp knife to cut off the tip of the artichoke. Cut off either the whole stem or just the tip (where it's brownish black). The stem is edible, but unless the artichoke is very large, the flesh is quite bitter. If you plan on eating the stem, just cut a little bit off the stem. If not, then you can chop the whole stem off.

If you're trimming multiple artichokes, you should place the trimmed artichoke immediately into some acidulated water (water in a large bowl with the juice of one or two lemons squeezed into it) to keep the exposed flesh from turning black or brown. I don't usually bother with the acidulated water - I prefer to simply place the artichoke into the pot to steam. As I finish trimming each artichoke, I add it to the pot. When I place the artichoke into the pot, I place it stem side up - they stand better that way.

Artichokes can be steamed until they are completely cooked (anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes depending on size). Sticking a fork into the stem (through the cut side) and meeting no resistance at all usually indicates the artichoke is done cooking. Remove the artichoke and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

However, for grilled artichokes, just steam the artichokes for 15 minutes and remove. (While steaming the artichokes, preheat the grill.) The artichoke will be softened but not fully cooked. Cut the artichoke in half along its axis of symmetry.

The artichoke will still have its choke.

Using a melon baller, measuring spoon, or tableware spoon, scoop out the choke and discard. Be careful, the choke can make quite a mess if allowed to - just scoop and toss. If you miss a bit of the florets, use the spoon to scrape against the heart and the florets should come off onto the spoon.

Cut open and remove the chokes from each artichoke and then brush the cut side of the artichokes with olive oil, being sure to coat the heart. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper over the cut side and transfer to a hot grill.

Grill over medium heat with the cut side up for 10 minutes and then flip the artichokes over and grill for another 5 minutes. Serve with Dijon mustard mayonnaise or sauce of your choice.

Grilled Artichokes (one large artichoke per serving)
Boil 1 in. (2.5 cm) water in pot with steamer attachment / Preheat grill
1 large artichoketrimsteam 15 min.cut from tip to basebrushseasongrill 10 min. medium heat with cut side upgrill 5 min. cut side down
1 tsp. (5 mL) olive oil
salt and pepper

Dijon mustard mayonnaise dipping sauce
2 Tbs. (30 g) mayonnaisemix
1 tsp. (5 g) Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

It's not uncommon to entertain guests who have not eaten artichokes before. So, I've decided to include a brief pictorial of how to eat a whole steamed artichoke. (Eating a grilled artichoke would be the same, except the diner doesn't have to deal with the choke.)

Starting form the outside and working your way in, snap off each bract from the base of the artichoke. The bract will have a fleshy, yellow part (where it was attached to the artichoke) - this is the part you eat. Dip it in a sauce (or not) and scrape the yellow portion off the fibrous bract with your teeth. Place the spent bract in a discard pile and draw another bract from the artichoke.

Once all the green bracts have been consumed, you will be left with a bunch of light yellow parts that have not yet become fibrous bracts. These are mostly edible, but may or may not be worth your time. Proceed eating them as you desire - or simply remove them as you would pluck petals from a flower. Eventually you will reach the purple color that signifies "Stop Eating".

Just grab the purple "petals" and as much of the remaining "petals" underneath and twist and pull them off. This will leave only the florets of the choke.

Use a spoon to scrape the florets off the base or heart of the artichoke.

With the heart cleaned, the rest of the artichoke can be consumed in its entirety. The stem can be bitter (especially the flesh near the exterior), so some diners may wish to avoid it.

As a special note, smaller artichokes can be consumed whole, choke and all, if the other bracts are removed. When pickled, the smallest of artichokes are sold as pickled artichoke hearts (they include not just the hearts but the soft tender bracts as well).


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Written by Michael Chu
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50 comments on Grilled Artichokes:(Post a comment)

On July 30, 2005 at 09:31 PM, heatherpc (guest) said...
Subject: grilled artichokes
Grilled artichokes sound really great but are you supposed to eat them as you would a steamed artichoke (by pulling the leaves off) or can you eat the whole thing?

On July 30, 2005 at 11:05 PM, Michael Chu said...
If you grill medium or larger artichokes, you should peel the bracts off individually and eat just as if they were steamed. The taste will be a bit different and the bracts will be dry and a little crispy to hold.

If you use baby artichokes, you can eat the whole thing - but you should remove the outer layer of bracts first (as if you were planning to make fried artichoke hearts which would be another article). So, remove the outer bracts first leaving only the tender ones and steam, cut, clean, grill, eat.

On August 01, 2005 at 03:42 PM, pauld (guest) said...
Subject: good job
This is fantastic. This is the first time I've come accross your site and I think it is great. Thank you for taking the time to create it. Kudos to you!

On August 04, 2005 at 10:09 PM, Jenny (guest) said...
Subject: Indoor grilling alternatives?
For those of us without an outdoor barbeque, is there any way to grill artichokes with a George Foreman grill or oven?

On August 05, 2005 at 04:30 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Indoor grilling alternatives?
Sure, try placing the artichokes about an inch under the broiler in your oven and broiling for a comparable amount of time (as if you were grilling). Keep an eye on it (just as you would on the grill) to make sure it doesn't burn.

On the indoor grill, you can try keeping the grill open and grilling them like that. Times will vary depending on the power of your electric grill.

Have fun with it!

On August 10, 2005 at 09:24 AM, duanekeys (guest) said...
Subject: Nice
I enjoy your site, I'm looking forward to trying this recipe (bought some Artichokes last night)!

On August 11, 2005 at 02:48 PM, Texasotterpop (guest) said...
Subject: New
Thank you for creating such a great website!! I have always steamed my artichokes, it is great to have a new way to cook them!! The instructions are easy to follow, and the pictures are really great!!

On August 25, 2005 at 12:53 PM, squawky said...
Great article -- inspired me to actually try cooking artichoke for the first time.
I did try the George Foreman method (don't have a grill, can't use one at my apartment easily) -- I would suggest maybe extending the cooking time beyond the 10 min (flip) 5 min for the electric option. My 'choke was cooked well enough, but didn't get the blackened, grilled flavor or look.
Will have to try the broiler next time.
Also did a variation on the sauce -- yogurt with dijon mustard, a little worcestershire, and some "cajun" spices. Was quite good...and just so this doesn't start a "healthy" war ;) -- I hate mayo.

On October 04, 2005 at 02:27 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Grilled Artichokes
Just discovered a new boyfriend whom also loves artichokes, can't wait to try them out just as I tried him out. Probably just as yummy!

On October 10, 2005 at 04:12 AM, frebru (guest) said...
Subject: Artichokes
I discovered your site this morning after reading an article on artichokes in an Italian magazine for Americans living in-country (I went to Google...). I am an accomplished cook and have rarely seen such complete directions for artichokes in particular. Cudos to you!

On November 01, 2005 at 03:39 PM, ncordero (guest) said...
Subject: seed
Where do I find seeds on the artichoke? I would like to harvest some so that I can pass them on to friends.

On November 02, 2005 at 08:43 AM, deannatch (guest) said...
Subject: grilled artichokes
Just discovered your site, and as a teacher, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the "presentation" of your lesson. A picture truly is worth more than a thousand words! Can't wait to try to recipe.

On January 31, 2006 at 03:56 AM, SyrianPrince (guest) said...
Subject: Grilled Artichokes
Thank you! Outstanding, clear easy to understand steps re grilled artichokes... am steaming my home grown ones as we speak, ready to be grilled. Am very much looking forward to perusing the rest of your site. Congratulations and thanks again.

On February 03, 2006 at 11:02 PM, mrbungle (guest) said...
Subject: the grilled choke
I just want you to know that this step by step on grilling artichokes is excellent...the pictures help as well! Thanks!

On February 12, 2006 at 07:18 PM, just me (guest) said...
Subject: re: your site
Totally kicks ass !!

On March 13, 2006 at 06:50 PM, Largo FL (guest) said...
Subject: Great website
This site is great- as soon as I saw the headline (analytical cooking) I felt like I was home!
This artichoke recipe looks like something I can do, unique in comparison to the other artichoke links I found.
I bought an artichoke today and I'd be cooking it right now if I had some veggie mayo. Any other dips that are easy and vegetarian?

On March 25, 2006 at 10:11 AM, Margaret (guest) said...
Subject: Thanks
Thank you for an outstanding primer on preparing and eating an artichoke. I ordered a steamed artichoke at a restaurant last night and now I know that the parts that I ate are OK. I did chew the fibrous leaves but didn't swallow the leftover fibers.

Thanks again!

On March 29, 2006 at 05:49 PM, an anonymous reader said...
What a great article--thanks! I saw fresh baby artichokes at Publix yesterday and plan to grill them. Not something you come across every day in Nashville.

On May 11, 2006 at 10:09 PM, scoobster (guest) said...
Subject: grilled artichokes
WOW... awesome instructions, that were so easy to follow. I plan on grilling some artichokes right now. Love your site so much I had to add you to my favorites list!!

On June 09, 2006 at 12:05 AM, libbywedge (guest) said...
Subject: awesome!
Bought a grill and then bought artichokes hoping to fing a site about how to grill them. I gambled on finding instructions and googled your site. Thank you for such clear instructions! You didn't make it more difficult than it had to be and it was great! I added Italian seasonings and fresh garlic and they rocked! Thanks again!

On June 20, 2006 at 12:18 PM, FrankC (guest) said...
Subject: Grilled Artichoke
:) I tried the grilled artichoke and was impressed. Being Italian i have eaten them since I was a kid. I have always had them stuffed. these were excellent. The second time I made them i spiced up the sauceby adding a hint of garlic and Oregano. Also for the oil I added onion, black olives salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley and a little romano cheese.
Tahnks again for a good reciept

On July 27, 2006 at 10:54 PM, ahong (guest) said...
Subject: Another dip suggestion
Terrifc, I love artichokes! May I suggest a dip as follows,

1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, mixed in 2 tbs lemon juice. A tsp drop of light mayo in the dip, on the side. Dip the artichoke leaf in the mixture with a light drag on the mayo to eat.

This dip works also very well with steamed crab!

On July 29, 2006 at 08:52 PM, A Grandma (guest) said...
Subject: Artichokes
I thoroughly enjoyed your description of how to steam and grill the artichokes.
May I thank you for your unique and detailed recipies. Step by step is the best, and you do not assume the reader" knows all about the subject"
A Grandma

On October 15, 2006 at 02:38 PM, bpstraycat (guest) said...
Subject: thanks for posting this great page
Thank you Michael for posting this blow-by-blow account of artichoke preparation. I cooked them many years ago, completely forgot how to do it, and was saved by your first-class page. All the diners enjoyed it. Good for you!

On October 17, 2006 at 10:49 PM, LAN3 said...
I've got a late-season grilling event this Saturday, and I'm trying to figure out a practical (and not too expensive) way of steaming up some artichokes on the scene of the grill. The grill does have an available but I won't have an opportunity to steam them before I arrive at the grill.

I'm going to try it anyway-- fab something together with a foil pan, my steamer basket, and I think I have a spare foil cake-pan which, filled with water, should survive the burner just fine.

On October 18, 2006 at 11:08 AM, Hunter Cashdollar (guest) said...
Subject: site
I like this approach to cooking. Hunter Cashdollar

On May 22, 2007 at 11:22 AM, vtturk (guest) said...
Subject: grilling artichokes
Excellent suggestions. I ususally snap off the outer bracts all around the artichoke until getting to the softer yellow leaves, then cut off the top third and quarter the artichoke. I like having more charred service and the quartered artichoke seems easier for people to just pick up and eat. I use a small paring knife to cut a v groove over and under the choke and remove it. As you wrote, olive oil, salt and pepper are all that are needed for htese babies.

On June 27, 2007 at 12:00 AM, jmhigg03 (guest) said...
Subject: another sauce
I highly enjoyed the grilled artichokes, they were wonderful. I do not like mayo based sauces for them though. What I use, and this is very unhealthy but delicious, is 1-2 TBSP butter, 1 garlic clove minced, seasoned salt and fresh cracked pepper, heated. Very simple and very good.

On December 22, 2007 at 12:20 AM, Josey19 (guest) said...
Subject: Sauce for Grilled Artichoke
Wonderful info on grilled artichoke. Now, I'm no engineer, but top this off with a lemon Aioli, and you're in heaven. Aioli - shortcut is mayo (best foods) pinch of cayenne, fresh lemon juice, minced garlic, minced or shredded green onion, salt & pepper..... yum P.S. if you're a true engineer, perfectionist, you'll want to make your own mayo 1 c. Extra virgin olive oil, 2 large egg yolks, salt & pepper.

On March 17, 2008 at 08:41 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Grilled Artichokes
Your site is wonderful. My late husband was an engineer and he grew up in artichoke country in California. He would think your site was a hoot! Thanks for making me think of him and sharing a chuckle.

On August 13, 2008 at 06:56 PM, Al Lim (guest) said...
Subject: grilled artichokes
Aloha Michael Chu,
Excellent website and instructions on grilling artichokes. Our fave restaurant, The Rutherford Grill in California Wine country does a great job w/ these and we've been meaning replicate their efforts. The pictures, instructions, and anatomy lesson were excellent. My wife is a mechanical engineer and loved your site. We use mayo w/ a little soy sauce as our EZ dipping sauce. Keep up the excellent work and we'll be visiting your site often.
Al Lim :)

On August 26, 2008 at 10:16 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Grilled Artichoke Hearts
My husband and I just ate the Grilled Artichokes at the Rutherford Grill (near Napa, Ca) today for lunch. We decided to try it at home. Since they grill their's over a wood fire grill, we wanted the smokey flavor but have a gas BBQ. I added Mesquite Liquid Smoke to the water before steaming. I also added some to the Olive Oil that we basted the artichokes with, and lightly sprinkled Lawry's seasoning salt on them before grilling. They were every bit as good at Rutherford's. Now if I could come up with their dipping sauce, I'd have it made and impress everyone!O

On September 22, 2008 at 02:25 PM, jimmyjimbob (guest) said...
Subject: grilled up right
I suggest adding some info on how to make some different merinades. We like ours with: buter,ground garlic (not garlic salt), fresh cerlatro, EVOO, fresh group pepper, soy, sea salt, onion powder, fresh lime (1) and lemmon (.5) juice. and one spoon of mayo. Great for dipping and merinade durring the grilling process.

On April 14, 2009 at 10:40 PM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: Rutherford Grill dipping sauce for Grilled Artichokes
It's funny that another person mentioned Rutherford's Grill in Napa Valley. We had their Grilled Artichokes there a month ago and tried to mimick the recipe here tonight. We'll have to try the artichoke recipe in this post (thank you very much!). The Rutherford Grill dipping sauce is easy - it's equal parts of mayonaisse, creamy horseradish and ground mustard.

On April 17, 2009 at 05:56 PM, notyourusualsuspect (guest) said...
Subject: Your instructions
Your instructions were perfect! I bought two today for 88 cents each. I love the taste but am always reluctant to cook them myself. Thank you for posting pictures that show exactly what the choke looks like. Every other article I looked at said to discard or scrape out the choke but only gave word descriptions. I am sending this site to other friends that have had the same question I did. Thank you!

On April 19, 2009 at 11:03 PM, artichoke season (guest) said...
Subject: thank you!
your instructions and photos were very helpful. I've steamed artichokes before but never grilled em. they turned out perfect :)

On June 22, 2009 at 11:57 AM, GINI (guest) said...
Subject: SAUCE

On July 18, 2009 at 04:03 PM, Ridem (guest) said...
Subject: Thanks!
Artichokes were always a mystery to me. Thanks for the step-by-step hand-holding. Very informative-and the final outcome was delicious!!

(I used a olive oil,lemon juice,garlic,fresh oregano and balsamic vinegar marinade on the steamed artichokes prior to grilling.)

On August 16, 2009 at 08:23 PM, Jenee (guest) said...
Subject: Best Artichokes EVER
I'm not big into using recipes, but I was interested in trying Grilled Artichokes and thought I'd check a recipe for some tips. All I have to say is BEST I have ever tasted! These are so tasty off the grill that they need no condiments or additional seasoning. I am now making these for the second time. I'll never eat another steamed artichoke again.

On September 13, 2009 at 08:00 PM, aspen cool (guest) said...
Subject: grilled artichokes
This recipe for grilled artichokes is definilty a keeper. I've been making steamed artichokes for many years, but until I had one grilled at a restaurant in Houston I never dreamed I'd get hooked. I now make them at home often, and when we go to Houston, I return to Houstons (the restaurant) and enjoy them there as well.

On September 30, 2009 at 08:50 PM, Elisabeth (guest) said...
Subject: artichoke

Love artichoke. Eat them any which way I can. simple dipping sauce, garlic pressed or finely chopped, lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and olive oil, salt to taste.
You can wrap the artichokes in aluminum foil and drizzle them with oil etc. and then put them standing up on the grill or in hot oven about 20 minutes.
You can cut them in half and in water microwave them covered for about 10 minutes on high, until fork pressed into base comes out tender feeling.


On April 11, 2010 at 08:21 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Rutherford's Grill and Houston
We just got back from Napa Valley and had the artichokes at Rutherford's Grill as well. Funny that someone mentioned Houston. My wife ate there as well and apparently they are owned by the same company/person.

In any event, I tried to replicate the process on my gas grill and discovered a few things. First, we cut the artichokes prior to steaming them. Bad idea. Second, we steamed the artichokes for 1 hour. Also not a good idea. The result was 1/2 the leaves falling off and through the grill. And the smoke flavor wasn't there.

Now that I have read your recipe and saw some of the posts, I try it again. BTW, I'm also trying to duplicate their corn bread recipe as well, but that has proven to be a little harder to find!

On April 19, 2010 at 07:54 PM, geojock (guest) said...
Subject: Grilled Artichoke Seeds
Unless you have your own artichoke plant you won't be able to harvest any seeds from the 'chokes - they're basically the flower "bud" BEFORE it's gone to seed. If you live in a fairly temperate climate, look around for artichoke plants as they are often used as landscaping. They actually have a beautiful purple flower. After the flower's wilted, you may be able to collect the seed from it, though I don't know what it would look like. I've got 4 'chokes in my garden and I eat every single flower bud!

On July 08, 2011 at 02:49 PM, Guest (guest) said...
Subject: Great instructions
Thanks for the great instructions!

For anyone interested in growing artichokes - it is very easy to do.

We've been growing 3 artichoke plants in our front yard since Spring, and they've been incredibly easy to grow. We bought them small from a nursery & they're been very low maintenance. The plants look very cool aesthetically too!

Each plant has so far yielded 1-2 large ("crown"?) artichokes, and 10-15 smaller artichokes of various sizes. We've already eaten the large ones, but we're now letting the smaller ones continue to grow to see how large they'll get (but not letting them get to flower).

We're harvesting a few different sizes today & will try out your grilling instructions tonight. Thanks for the tips on how to eat different sizes!

PS - For a dip we've always used: 1 tsp mayo, 1/2 tsp lemon juice, and 2 dashes of Lemon Pepper... sometimes also a dash of cayenne pepper for zest.

On March 29, 2012 at 12:15 AM, 1PetEng (guest) said...
Subject: Grilled Artichokes
Wow! I've never done this before but it turned out GREAT!! Your procedure for preparing the artichoke had adequate detail for a novice like me to successfully complete it. Thanks!

On April 11, 2012 at 03:10 AM, ItsFixed said...
Wow ! Itís a nice recipe.

On April 11, 2012 at 03:58 PM, Diane B. said...
Subject: lazy steaming and leaf method
Last time I checked, our grill was home to a nest of wasps (for the second time) so no grilling right now till they're dealt with. Irritating.

We have artichokes quite often though and just use a quick-lazy method that works for us. Even the prep is done lazy-way.
...rinse artichokes to remove any dust/spray/etc
...if stems are long enough to bother with, peel outer covering with a veg. peeler, then cut stems flat to bottoms
(..I don't cut off any of the leaf tips, etc, since they don't bother me)
...turn artichoke(s) upside down (slightly askew okay) and place in a microwave-safe bowl/container (if I'm making two, I'll use a rectangular Pyrex dish)...drape artichokes lightly with piece of dry-wax paper (or waxed paper, plastic wrap, etc)
...microwave on High about 5-15 min depending on number/size, or till a fork or knife tip can be easily pushed into the upturned artichoke bottom
...serve with lemon butter for dipping

...remove outer leaves one at a time, dip/scrape with teeth
...remove thinner and softer inner leaves a few at a time, dip/bite off
...scrape choke off with sharp tablespoon, etc
...chop up bare bottom and dip/eat

As mentioned, I don't have a problem removing the leaves with sharp tips attached to dip and eat--guess I just grab them lower down, etc. (If I did have to snip off all those tips, suspect we wouldn't eat artichokes as often and I'd miss that!)

On June 02, 2012 at 10:31 PM, Guest (guest) said...
Subject: Wasps in your grill
Just turn on the grill... should take care of the problem.

On November 22, 2012 at 10:15 AM, Abby (guest) said...
Subject: love this page
I love your approach to sharing recipes. I'm not an engineer, but a lawyer, and I really appreciate the step by step and context. Appeals to and affirms the ridiculous methodical way i have! Brava/o!

On December 08, 2013 at 08:32 PM, Tink (guest) said...
Subject: Grilled artichokes
Thank you for the great information and photos! That's the best tutorial I've ever seen.

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