Carciofi alla Giudia (Jewish Fried Artichokes)
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. You’ll need a candy/fat thermometer for this recipe.
1 lemon, sliced in half
4 artichokes (regular or baby)
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups (1 quart) vegetable or canola oil
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Cut each artichoke half in half again lengthwise and place in the reserved lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
6. 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).
7. Place the flour in a medium bowl; set aside. Line another medium bowl with a paper towel; set aside.
8. 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 1½ 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. Serves 4 to 6. –Jill Santopietro for CHOW.com