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Grilled Artichokes with Lemon-Mint Dipping Sauce

4 medium artichokes (about 8 ounces each), see note
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
Several grinds black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

Cut off stems and top 1/2-inch from each artichoke. Using scissors, trim and discard pointed tips from leaves.

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan with a lid. Add prepared artichokes, set pan lid slightly ajar and cook until bases of artichokes are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain artichokes well and place upside down on a plate to cool.

When artichokes are cool enough to handle, quarter them lengthwise through the bases and scrape out and discard fuzzy chokes and several layers of small pointed leaves closest to the chokes. Artichokes can be prepared 4 to 5 hours ahead Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

For the dipping sauce: Stir together lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper in a small nonreactive bowl. Whisk in olive oil and mint. Taste and add more salt if desired. Dipping sauce can be prepared 1 1/2 hours ahead. Cover and leave at cool room temperature. Whisk well before using.

To finish, prepare a grill, placing rack 4 to 5 inches from the heat source, or heat a stove-top grill pan. Brush artichokes lightly on all surfaces with some of the dipping sauce. Grill until lightly browned and hot, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Watch carefully because the intensity of heat varies with the type of grill used.

To serve, place a bowl of the dipping sauce in the center of a serving plate. Surround the bowl with artichoke quarters. Break off outer leaves, dip into the sauce, and eat by scraping meaty part off the bottom of the leaves with your teeth. Discard tough portion of each leaf in bowls or on a small plate. The tender heart and base of each artichoke can be cut out and skewered, if desired.

Note: Small to medium artichokes are best for this recipe, but if you can only find large artichokes, you can use two to three. Cook until tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool and cut into eighths, rather than quarters.

Betty Rosbottom

Thursday, November 30, 2000

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