Artichokes are low in price this time of year (and fresh!) so here is an easy way to prepare them. This works with large artichokes or small, baby ones, but for me the best size to seek out are small to medium. Look for artichokes that have tight leaves and very little browning on the tips.
Artichokes are notoriously laborious to clean. This preparation does away with virtually any trimming and lets you experience eating this delicious thistle after being roasted over wood coals. If you want, you can use charcoal briquettes. Just make sure they are not impregnated with lighter fluid or any other chemicals you would not want to consume. I did these in the dying embers of my wood fired oven after making some pizza.
Prepping your thistles: lop off about 1/2 inch of the top of each artichoke with a serrated bread knife. Slice the very end of the stem (do NOT cut off the entire stem – it tastes just as good as the artichoke heart). Gently spread the leaves outward to make spaces for the marinade to drip in. Season the tops with salt.
Add about a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil to a bowl for every 4 medium artichokes. Add a splash of limoncello if you have it. Crush and mince a few cloves of garlic and add them to the bowl. Zest a lemon and add to the mixture, then squeeze the juice into the bowl. Season with fresh cracked pepper and salt and whisk until combined. Spoon the marinade over the tops of the artichokes and let the mixture seep between the leaves. Lay the ‘chokes on your bed of coals and turn them every 10 minutes or so. Roast until the outer leaves are blackened and the ‘chokes are tender – about 30 to 40 minutes.
To eat – peel away the leaves and scrape the bottom, meaty ends between your teeth. When you get to the center, pull away the choke (it looks like a flower with a carpet at the bottom), and eat the center of the charred stem and heart.