So my other half went to Europe for a wedding a few weeks ago and spent a few days in Rome before returning home to Australia. And when in Rome…well, you eat as the Romans do don’t you? Which happened to include these amazing Roman-Jewish fried artichokes. I’ll admit I had never heard of them before, but Ollie was eager to replicate this amazing little dish. And yes, it’s as easy as you’d think and as delicious as you would hope.
I love artichokes but have stuffed them up that many times because I never clean them properly – I have often been caught out by not taking enough of the outer leaves off and didn’t remove 100 per cent of the fuzzy inner choke. So I was either left with tough spikey leaves or a fuzzy uncomfortable tongue. You can imagine my frustration at constantly cooking them wrong. Eventually however, I figured it out. I was always too hesitant with them, but in the end less is more when it comes to cleaning artichokes…in fact in the recipe, I stuffed up a bit and forgot to chop off the top 2cm of the artichoke after I had removed the outer leaves which just goes to show sometimes we still get it wrong, and that’s ok, it’s all part of the process.
So for this recipe, do as I say, not as I do when it comes to properly preparing and cleaning your artichokes. While it didn’t make a huge impact on the end result – it did mean that there were a few tough leaf tops left on the artichoke. But, we ripped them off and kept on eating. But seriously, these little babies deep-fried are irresistibly delicious, not to mention addictive – I could eat them like a hot bowl of chips (actually, I would prefer the chokes over the chips).
4 large artichokes
Lemon wedges, for preparing artichokes and for serving
Fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze a lemon into the bowl of water, stir, then throw in the squeezed lemon halves to ensure your artichokes stay fresh and don’t turn brown.
- To prepare artichokes firstly peel off the outer tough leaves until you reach the lighter coloured leaves underneath (I usually find I have to remove 2-3 layers of leaves to reach this point).
- Then trim the stalk of the artichokes so that they are 3cm in length. Then, using a vegetable peeler, peel the outer tougher layer of the stalk off. Using a sharp kitchen knife, cut off the top 2cm of the artichokes and return to your lemon water until all are done.
- One at a time (to avoid unnecessary browning), cut artichoke lengthways and, using a spoon, remove the fuzzy inner choke, then return to the lemon water. Repeat until all artichokes are cleaned.
- Steam artichokes for 20 minutes (I used a bamboo steamer over a pot of boiling water) until soft.
- Heat 2 – 3cm of oil in a large heavy bottomed fry pan until a wooden spoon when dipped into the oil produces bubbles (this is an easy way to test if the oil is hot enough).
Pat your artichokes dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel before, one at a time, lowering slowly into the oil. Cooking artichokes for 10 – 15 minutes (turning no more than twice or they will start to fall apart) until golden brown. Remove using a slotted spoon and allow to cool slightly on a base of paper towel to remove excess oil.
- Sprinkle artichokes with salt and squeeze over fresh lemon juice to serve. The artichokes should have a crispy outer layer and a velvety soft inside around the base.