By Jill Santopietro
A staple in Rome’s Jewish quarter, these artichokes are quickly fried, turning the leaves crisp and nutty and the hearts tender and earthy-a perfect starter with a glass of crisp Italian wine.
Special equipment: You will need a candy/fat thermometer for this recipe.
Total Time: 45 mins
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
1 lemon, sliced in half
4 artichokes (regular or baby)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups (1 quart) vegetable or canola oil
Squeeze the juice from 1 of the lemon halves into a large, nonreactive bowl and fill the bowl halfway with water; set aside. Cut the remaining lemon half into 4 wedges; set aside.
Working with 1 artichoke at a time, trim the leafy top third with a serrated knife. Pull off the dark outer leaves one by one to reveal the tender yellow inner leaves. Trim the stem bottom.
Cut around the outside of the artichoke with a paring knife to remove the remaining tough leaf base. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the dark green skin from the stem, smoothing the edges where the leaves were attached.
Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise through the leaves and stem. Using a small spoon, gently scoop out the tough purple choke and the fuzz found between the leaves and stem; discard.
Cut each artichoke half in half again lengthwise and place in the reserved lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of generously salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and water; set aside. Remove the artichoke quarters from the lemon water, drop them into the boiling water, and cook until just tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to the prepared ice water bath until cool. Drain again and pat dry between towels (the drier the better).
Place the flour in a medium bowl; set aside. Line another medium bowl with a paper towel; set aside.
Wipe the pot used to boil the artichokes completely dry, pour in the oil, and set over high heat until the oil temperature reaches 350°F on a candy/fat thermometer. Toss half of the artichoke pieces in the bowl of flour, shake off any excess, and, using a slotted spoon, slowly lower them into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer the artichokes to the paper-towel-lined bowl, sprinkle generously with salt, and toss to coat. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Serve immediately with the reserved lemon wedges.