I will repeat that, C-O-L-O-R-A-D-O artichokes.
Yes, Artichokes, IN Colorado.
When Kim Dirkes offered to let us visit the family's 101 year old farm, and have a peek at her artichoke plants, I had no idea what to expect. Nestled right behind Haystack Mountain, Behramm Farm is large, gorgeous, and picturesque, even by Colorado standards. In addition to their traditional crops, they also have old growth fruit trees (peaches, apples, cherries, black walnuts) vines and bushes!
Of course, I fawned over all the beautiful artichokes plants growing in her greenhouse. In retrospect, to say I was fawning might be a bit of an understatement. I would have wrapped my arms around each one had they not been full of thistles!
At one point, as it always does, came the question that gave me pause, "how much do you want for the market?"
I have to be very careful with this open ended question. You see, artichokes are a favorite in my house, and I had to try extremely hard not be greedy, and say, "how about ALL of them?" Kim generously donated a large supply "to play with", and I floated back to the car with visions of perfectly prepared artichokes, an endless supply of hollandaise, and miraculous last minutes phone calls for sleep-overs for the girls.
Traditionally, artichokes need a longer growing season then our climate can provide. Therefore all the artichokes on the farm are grown in a large hooped greenhouse. Fortunately for us, there are plans to build an another structure to increase the size of their crop. Selfishly, I hope we can create enough of a demand at our market, over the next few years, to see the additional greenhouse built.
Lat week I decided to make grilled artichokes for the Farmer's Market. The recipe is a simple one. Although artichokes are labor intensive, I enjoy the process of peeling away the leaves and slowly arriving at the those last tender morsels; the bottom, the heart and the stem.
Grilled Colorado Artichokes
*Trim the bottom two layers of leaves off with a paring knife (I also peel the step because the center is edible as well).
*Using scissors, cut the pointed tips off each leaf.
*I cut my artichokes in half ( I leave the fuzzy "choke" in, and boil it first, then remove the softened choke. I do this to save time, and to get the vegetable in the boiling water before it oxidizes)
* To reduce oxidation or browning: Rub with a cut lemon or put prepped artichoke in a bowl of lemon (acidulated) water; or in water containing a large amount of salt (for every 2 quarts of water, use 1/4 cup kosher salt)
In a 5 quart pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil add 4 tablespoons of salt. Add the artichokes and simmer (the term is "blanching") until a sharp paring knife will pass easily through the base of the vegetable. It could be 15 minutes or it could be 45.
Remove the artichokes from the boiling water and place them in a bowl of ice water (the term is "shocking") and cool, until the vegetable is no longer hot Drain.
Blot the artichokes dry, remove the fuzzy choke with a spoon.
Heat your grill or a grill pan for 5 minutes on medium high.
Drizzle vegetable with olive oil, salt and pepper and place them on the grill cut side down. Cook until the surface begins to turn a nice golden brown. Turn them over and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove artichokes from the grill, drizzle with a little melted butter, and a few squeezes of lemon, additional salt and pepper.
See you at the Market!
Note: Behrmann Farm has a bumper crop of Apples and Peaches this year, and would like to invite a few small groups to come out and pick your own fruit. This is a wonderful idea for families or groups with small children as these trees are the family fruit trees and are close their home.
I will keep you posted with times, dates and fees, or you can talk to Kim this week at LFM.