In 1948, Marilyn Monroe was crowned California's first Artichoke Queen. Her sex symbol status seems in line with the artichoke's aphrodisiac reputation. There was a time in the 16th century when even she would have been denied the pleasure of eating the heart of an artichoke--reputed to enhance sexual power, eating this thistle family member was reserved only for men.
Today, this niche vegetable is for anyone who is willing to get their hands dirty and work for a chance to eat the meaty, tender Greek mythological flesh of a flower born from Zeus' seduction of a beautiful mortal woman. Traditionally eaten with little more than drawn butter and salt, this recipe adds a chili crisp brown butter that is addictive. If chili crisp is new to your pantry, buy two (maybe three) jars. This tangy, spicy, and best of all crunchy condiment may be heaped by the spoonful on to vegetables and meats, and stirred into soups and sauces. Grilled artichokes and chili crisp are a match made in heaven. One bite, and your tastes buds will forgive the artichoke for playing hard to get.
- On the stove top, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt until the water tastes like the sea.
- Add 6 garlic cloves, and squeeze each lemon half into the pot and then drop the juiced lemon halves into the water.
- Add the artichokes and simmer until the artichokes are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes (test by piercing the heart with a paring knife--if the knife releases easily, the artichokes are cooked properly.
- Remove the artichokes and the garlic cloves from the water, drain, and let cool.
- Cut the artichokes in half lengthwise and remove the choke and some of the soft leaves around the choke.
- Generously season the flesh side of the artichokes with salt and pepper, brush with olive oil and place on the grill flesh side up.
- Toss the raw and boiled garlic cloves with olive oil and place on the grill until golden and soft. Reserve.
- When golden brown, flip the artichokes and cook flesh side down for about 5 minutes more, or until lightly charred.
- Meanwhile, add the butter, chili crisp, and a pinch of salt to a small cocotte. Heat until bubbling and the butter begins to brown.
- Just before serving, add the grilled garlic cloves to the butter and chili crisp mixture.
- Place the grilled artichokes on a platter, drizzle with chili crisp butter, and finish with reserved lemon zest and a sprinkling of sea salt flakes. Garnish with tiny edible flowers.