This is one of my favorite appetizers. Artichokes are great when steamed and then grilled. They have an amazing flavor by themselves and are even better when finished on a grill. One time when I was preparing to grill some artichokes I had the great idea to use the artichoke itself as a bowl for the dip. The dip has just a touch of heat from the pepper flakes which plays well with the smoke flavor from the grill. I normally cook this indirectly on my Primo.
The below recipe makes 2 artichokes stuffed with dip which is enough for a large group of people. Serve them hot right off the grill.
There's a little bit of an art to picking artichokes. I will go into this a little deeper in my next post, but look for artichokes that have closed/tight leaves and make a squeaky sound when you squeeze them. Also, avoid any artichokes that have a black color on the cut part of the stem. It indicates that it is old.
1) Prepare each artichoke by first cutting off the stem so it can sit flat. Remove the outermost row or two of petals. Then cut the top 1” off of the artichokes to expose the inner petals. The petals of most artichokes will have a sharp thorn at the end. Using kitchen shears you can simply cut the top 1/2 inch of the petal off.
2) Boil or steam the artichokes, whichever you prefer. An easy way to steam them is to fill a pot with enough water to cover half of the artichokes. Add 2 bay leaves and 1 lemon cut in half, squeeze the juice into water and then add the lemon halves as well. Place the artichokes face down in the water, cover the pot and simmer for 25-30 minutes until tender. A sharp knife will easily pierce the stem when ready.
3) Allow to cool for a few minutes. Remove the inner thin silky and purplish petals in the center of the artichoke. This will expose the choke (fuzzy flower part) and the artichoke heart. Remove the choke. I find a melon baller works really well.
4) Mix the blue cheese dip and fill the center void in each artichoke with half of the dip.
5) Indirectly smoke the artichokes at 275°F for 45 minutes or until the top of the filling has turned a slight golden brown. I use a small chunk of hickory or fruit wood with the charcoal.
6) To eat start by pulling the inner petals out. Each one will come with some dip and a little piece of the artichoke heart at the end of the petal. Gently bite and scrape off the heart with your teeth. Enjoy and be sure the eat what is left of the heart when you're finished. It's the best part!