Grilled artichokes

Grilled artichokes (Eric Boyd / Los Angeles Times)

 

Grilled artichokes

Total time: 55 minutes

Servings: 4

1 lemon

4 medium artichokes

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 pound wood chips (preferably oak or hickory)

Olive oil

1. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a large saucepan with 6 cups of water. Add the lemon halves to the water.

2. Trim the artichokes to hearts, leaving the stems intact. Begin by holding the artichoke in your left hand with the stem facing toward you and the tip facing away. Slowly turn the artichoke against the sharp edge of the knife while making an abbreviated sawing motion. (It's easier to control if you use the base of the knife rather than the tip.) You will begin to cut through the tough outer leaves; when you can discern the natural cone shape of the artichoke, adjust the knife to follow it. Keep trimming just like this until you've cut away enough of the tough leaves so that you see only light green at the base. Cut away the top half-inch or so of the tip of the artichoke and dip the artichoke into the lemon water to keep the cut surfaces from discoloring. With a paring knife, trim away the very tip of the stem, then peel the stem and base of the artichoke, going from the tip to where the base meets the leaves. You'll have to do this at least five or six times to make it all the way around the artichoke. When you're done, there should be no dark green tough spots left, only pale green and ivory.

3. Dip each artichoke in lemon water to prevent browning, then cut in half lengthwise. If there is a hairy choke in the center of the heart, remove it (a serrated grapefruit spoon is easiest; a teaspoon will work too). Put the cleaned halves in the lemon water and repeat for the remaining artichokes.

4. Add the salt to the soaking water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook just until the artichokes are tender at the heart, about 15 minutes. Remove the artichokes to a plate with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool and dry.

5. Place the wood chips in a bowl, cover with water and soak at least 30 minutes. Light a fire and when it is medium-hot (when you can hold your hand at grill level to a count of three), add the wood chips. Let them flame up and die down.

6. Brush the artichokes lightly with oil and place around the outside of the grill. Cover and cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Remove the lid, turn the artichokes and cook another 3 or 4 minutes, just until lightly bronzed on both sides. Watch carefully as they will go from golden to charred very quickly. Remove to a serving platter.

Each serving: 120 calories; 3 grams protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 9 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 270 mg. sodium.