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July 4th Recipe: Grilled Artichokes With A Peruvian Twist

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Photo courtesy of Cathy Danh
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Tomorrow's holiday is all about celebrating our glorious country. And what really makes the good ol' US of A so special is our rich diversity.Chef Ricardo Zarate of Picca and Mochica puts a Peruvian twist on grilling by making a pisco marinade and huatacay-infused aoli.

Huatacay is also known as Peruvian black mint, and can be swapped out for your garden mint if you can't locate it at a local Latino market. Feel free to play. What's really important there is the marinade and par-steaming process. As suggested by Amelia Saltzman on last week's episode of "Good Food" on KCRW, it's good to plump up the cells of your veggies with water before putting them on the grill so they don't burn. Corn and chokes need to be soaked before hitting the heat, allowing them to cook thoroughly before they get that nice char on the outside.

Here's how it's done:

Pisco Braised Artichoke with Huacatay Aioli
By Ricardo Zarate
4 servings

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For Artichoke:

2 ea globe artichokes
1 small fennel bulb (medium dice)
1 large carrot (medium dice)
3 small celery stalks (medium dice)
3 lemons (sliced and squeezed)
64 oz water
8 oz pisco
1 oz sea salt

For Pisco Marinade:

2 oz pisco
3 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz garlic paste (1.5 oz Garlic Cloves and 0.5 oz canola oil, mortar crushed or blend until forming a paste)
2 oz extra virgin olive oil
1 oz sea salt

For Huacatay Aioli:

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8 oz mayonnaise
1.5 oz sour cream
0.5 oz yuzu kosho
2 lemons, juice and zest
0.5 oz huacatay
Pinch of sea salt

For Aji Amarillo Butter:

5 oz aji amarillo chiles (seeded)
10 oz unsalted butter
2 oz canola oil

Preparation for Artichokes:

Clean artichokes petals by clipping the thorns with kitchen scissors. Slice artichokes in half lengthwise. Cut the tops off with scissors. Fill a sauce pan with the water, adding the lemons and artichokes, diced vegetables, and Pisco. Once all vegetables are submerged, cover with the kitchen towels and bring it to boil. Let it simmer for one hour over medium heat. Set aside on a sheet rack to let cool.

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Preparation for Pisco Marinade:

Place lime juice, garlic, and pisco in the blender and blend on medium speed. Incorporate the extra virgin olive oil until gradually until well emulsified. Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Preparation for Huacatay Aioli:

Dry out huacatay with a kitchen towel and then mince with a chef's knife. Mix all ingredients in the mixing bowl. Place all the mixed ingredients in a blender. You may have to blend in two batches, depending on your blender’s capacity. Blend it gently until it is well incorporated.

Preparation for Aji Amarillo Butter:

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Seed aji amarillo chilies and blanch them 2 times in boiling water. (This eliminates some of the heat, just as we did for the recent ceviche recipe.) Blend aji amarillo chilies with the canola oil in a blender until pureed and smooth. Place butter and aji amarillo puree, using the paddle attachment, in a standing mixer. Mix this until it gets uniformly yellow. Set aside. (This can also be done in a large mixing bowl for simplicity's sake.)

Plating and Garnishing of Artichokes:

Brush artichokes with pisco marinade. On a charcoal grill place artichokes with the leaves side down until slightly charred, flipping them over to char the heart side as well. Add a thick layer of the aji amarillo butter and finish with sea salt.

Plate and serve with the bowl of huatacay aoili and plenty of wedges of fresh lime.