A longstanding specialty at OX and the perfect antidote its unrepentantly carnivorous diet. Parboiling the artichokes speeds up the grilling sauce. By way of a sauce, OX serves aioli (garlic mayonnaise) with a jolt of piment d’Espelette (fiery chili powder from France’s Basque country).
Step 1: Snip any spines off the artichoke leaves with kitchen scissors.
Step 2: Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add the artichokes, 2 teaspoons salt, garlic, and lemon halves. Boil the artichokes until just tender, about 25 minutes. (They’ll be easy to pierce with a metal skewer.) Transfer the artichokes to a colander and rinse with cold water until cool. Drain well.
Step 3: Cut each artichoke complete with stem in half lengthwise using a large chefs knife. Using a spoon, scrape the “choke” (fibrous core) in the center. The artichokes can be prepared up to a day ahead to this stage and refrigerated.
Step 4: Make the Espelette Aioli. Place the mayonnaise in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the garlic, lemon zest, and Espelette chili powder to taste. Transfer to 4 small bowls for serving.
Step 5: Set up your grill for “caveman” style grilling (directly on the embers) or direct grilling. Ideally, you’ll be working on a wood fire. Rake out the embers. If direct grilling on a conventional charcoal or gas grill, preheat to high. Note: If grilling directly on wood embers, lay a grill grate, like our Best of Barbecue Tuscan Grate. This keeps the artichokes above the ash.
Step 6: Very generously season each artichoke half on all sides with salt, pepper, and olive oil. (You need more seasoning than for meat because the artichokes—and vegetables in general—exude so much meat.)
Step 7: Lay the artichokes leaf side down direct on the coals (or on your hot grill grate). Grill until browned and lightly charred in spots, 5 to 10 minutes. Invert and grill the flat sides of the artichokes until browned and lightly charred, another 5 minutes.
Step 8: Transfer the artichokes to a platter or plates. Brush off any excess ash. Season each artichoke half with a little more olive oil, salt, and pepper. Serve at once with the Espelette Aioli for dipping.