Friday, February 08, 2008

Carciofi Fritti


This time of year in the run up to Lent, I mentioned previously that this is the time for all things fried. Usually, it means the fried pastries of the carnival period, but I found myself craving a Roman specialty, fried artichokes. Allegedly, they are to Romans what French fries are to Americans, tasty fried morsels. I don't know as I haven't been to Rome, since I was a kid, so it's all hearsay to me. I've seen them made on my favorite lunchtime TV show, where the chefs battle it out for the the winning 20 minute menu. So I have made them a few times based on what I had seen them do, but was never quite completely happy with the results till I came across the trick I have been looking for to make a crispy light fried treat. Kyle Phillips of Italian Food of the web site About.com finally helped me achieve the perfect fried artichokes. Soak the artichokes in lemony water for an hour before frying. I have followed his recipe fairly faithfully with a few adjustments, as his original recipe called for 6 artichokes, but I found that the proportions were only enough for 3-4 large artichokes. I also didn't put the flour in the water, and it worked just fine.

INGREDIENTS:

* 4 artichokes (I prefer the spineless Sardinian or Roman varieties or globe as they are called here,
but any will work fine as long as they are fresh)
* salt
* The juice of 1/2 a lemon

* Flour, maybe 1/2-3/4c (put in a bag to shakes the wedges around in)
* A whole egg, lightly beaten
* Oil for frying

PREPARATION:
Squeeze the lemon into a bowl of water, drop the rind into the bowl, and add a pinch of salt. Peel away the tough outer leaves of the artichokes, trim the tops perpendicular to the length of the artichokes, and cut the artichokes into eighths, lengthwise. You will have small feathery wedges.

Soak the wedges in the acidified water for an hour. Pat them dry and drop into the flour. I like to use a bag with the flour and shake them about to completely cover. I use one of those clear plastic bags that are hard to avoid, from when you buy your veggies . It is another good way to reuse them.
Dredge the pieces a few at a time in the egg, and fry them until crisp and golden in hot, but not really hot oil (you don't want the outside to burn before the inside is cooked). I find a thermometer is very useful once again if you have one.
Drain and lightly salt.
They don't stay crispy long, so try to time them to go right before serving. I tried them with just eggs whites, as I had a surplus, but although they were good, they didn't get quite as crispy.

Kyle Phillips's Fried artichoke recipe



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