Artichokes (one per person as a side dish or entree)
Olive oil – enough to almost submerge the artichokes, at least 1 litre depending on the size of your pan.
Carciofi Alla Giudia is a simple if slightly labour intensive solution to the spring globe artichokes you might be receiving in your Fair Food boxes. This recipe is ancient and comes from the Jewish quarter of Rome. The delicate innermost leaves become nutty, golden and crunchy, with the heart remaining a tender last bite. Be sure to sprinkle with lots of salt and lemon – the acidity cuts through the mellow oily leaves magically. We were introduced to this dish by Ellie Bouhadana, a local chef who’s been doing lots of fab things with artichokes this season!
Roman – Jewish Fried Artichokes, Carciofi Alla Giudia
Prepare the artichokes by peeling off the outer leaves that are tough. Beginning from the base, remove the leaves until you see they’ve become light green and tender – you’re going to feel like you’re losing the whole vegetable, but these leaves won’t be edible after frying, so it’s best to gift them to your compost.
With a small, sharp knife, cut the top half (or third, depending on how tender the artichokes are) completely off. Rub the artichokes all over with half a lemon – this stops them browning.
Now trim the stem; chop the bottom off, leaving about 2 to 3 inches of stem and then carve away the outer layer of the stem and the bottom of the artichoke, so you have just the tender inner part of the stem attached.
Place the artichokes in a bowl of water mixed with the juice of 1 lemon until they are ready for frying.
Heat about 3 inches of olive oil in a saucepan over low-medium heat; if you have a thermometer, it’s 150ºC; if you don’t, pop a rejected artichoke leaf in the oil, and if it’s simmering gently, it’s ready.
Pat the artichokes gently to remove excess water, then fry gently for about 10 minutes, prodding them with a fork now and then to ensure each side is cooked. You don’t want to cook them too fast here; you’re not looking to brown the artichokes, just get them to the tender, edible stage.
Remove and drain the artichokes on paper towels. When cool enough to handle, carefully tease some of the leaves away from the middle and flatten the artichokes, so they resemble flowers.
Turn the heat up higher (this time 180ºC), deep fry the artichokes, head down (tongs are handy for this) for a few minutes or until crisp and a deep, deep golden brown.
Drain on paper towels, then serve while still hot, sprinkled with lots of salt and a big squirt of lemon!