Working as a traveling salesman can get pretty tiresome, especially after doing it for 10+ years. The one perk that I do not get tired of though is the food. I make it a point to always try and find the neighborhood gems and the off-the-beaten-path smaller restaurants. Of course, I don’t always get to choose and sometimes I get dragged to a chain. Such was the case about a month ago while I was in Irvine and a customer asked to meet at Houston’s. Having never been to one I was skeptical, but it turns out I was very pleasantly surprised.
I grew up eating artichokes and they were always prepared the same way – steamed with a side of butter and mayonnaise. Don’t get me wrong, I do love them this way, but it wasn’t until visiting Houston’s that I had ever tried them grilled. As soon as I got back home, I tried my hand at recreating this dish and, having succeeded in doing so, may never eat them any other way again. I definitely recommend going to Houston’s – obviously, their artichokes are awesome, but so is their prime rib sandwich. If you can’t get there though, here is how to make the artichokes.
Salt & Pepper
1/2 cup mayo
Chipotle powder or crushed
Start by making the aioli – just stir the chipotle into the mayo and squeeze a little lemon juice in. Make it as spicy as you want and then set in the fridge until you are ready to eat.
Prepare a steamer that you will cook the artichokes in. Clean the artichokes by cutting off any of the bad leaves at the bottom and cut just the end of the stem off. Set the artichoke on it’s side and cut about a 1/2 inch off the top to get rid of the prickly leaves. Then take a pair of scissors and continue to turn the artichoke, cutting the prickly tops off each leaf. Rinse the artichoke well by gently pulling the leaves away to allow the water to get into the hard to reach areas. Put the artichokes in the steamer and steam for 15-20 minutes depending on size of artichokes. Prepare your grill to grill the artichokes over direct high heat.
Remove the artichokes from the steamer and cut in half vertically. Return to steamer and steam an additional 5-10 minutes. Remove and, using a spoon, scoop out all the inedible fibrous inside. At this point, you should be able to eat the artichoke as is. Resist the urge and get them ready for the grill by drizzling with olive oil & lemon juice. Sprinkle a healthy amount of salt and pepper over them – turn and repeat drizzling/sprinkling.
Grill the artichokes for 3-5 minutes each side so that they have nice char marks and are well toasted. Serve hot with the chipotle aioli and a side bowl for discarded leaves. Just like a steamed artichoke, you don’t eat the whole leaf, just scrape off the bottom meaty part. Once all the leaves have been eaten, then comes my favorite part, the heart and stem.
Grilled Artichoke Recipe Adapted From Houston’s Restaurant by Kalen Kimm