Deep-Fried Artichokes - Carciofi alla Giudia

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October 24, 2022

2 min read

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A Jewish Roman iconic dish.

Excerpted from Cooking alla Giudia by Benedetta Jasmine Guetta (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2022. Photographs by Ray Kachatorian.

Carciofi alla giudia are world-famous and one of the few Jewish Italian dishes known outside Italy. They are as much a part of Rome as the Colosseum, and, yes, we are very proud that they are a Jewish specialty. In Italy, the dish is made with Romanesco artichokes, which are harvested between February and April in the coastal region northwest of Rome. These Italian artichokes are, in my experience, much softer than artichokes generally grown in the States. However, you can easily prepare outstanding carciofi alla giudia with medium-sized globe artichokes or baby artichokes as long as you opt for the purple variety of globe artichokes, which are generally softer than the green ones.

Please note that these artichokes are fried in extra-virgin olive oil, rather than the sunflower or peanut oil used in other recipes in my book. Outside Italy, good-quality olive oil is expensive and so generally is used in small amounts for salad dressings and the like, but carciofi alla giudia are well worth the splurge. It’s the double-frying in the olive oil that will make your carciofi perfectly crispy.

Read our full review of Cooking alla Giudia and get more Jewish Italian recipes here.

 width=Did you know that eating is a metaphor for anything that we choose to take into ourselves from the outside world? This includes food, medicine and even ideas. Choose wisely! Get more Jewish food thoughts here.

Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 as a starter

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 4 medium or 8 baby artichokes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for deep-frying
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges for serving (optional)

PREPARATION

  1. Fill a 1-quart (1 L) bowl with water and squeeze the juice of the lemon into it.
  2. Remove the tough outer leaves of one artichoke to expose the more tender leaves within and then, using kitchen shears or a paring knife, cut off the top half of each leaf. Trim the base and peel the stem, then scoop out the hairy choke in the center of the artichoke with a sharp spoon (if possible) and discard. Once all the cutting and trimming is done, the artichoke should look like a rosebud. Place the artichoke in the lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
  3. When all the artichokes are trimmed, drain and pat dry. One at a time, put the artichokes on a clean work surface and press down on them gently to force the leaves to open; alternatively, use your fingers to spread out the leaves.
  4. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it reaches 300°F (150°C) on a deep-fry thermometer. You can check the oil temperature by dipping the handle of a wooden spoon in it—when the oil is ready, it will gently sizzle and bubble up around it. Drop a couple of artichokes at a time into the hot oil and press them down with a fork or with tongs. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on size. Transfer the half-cooked artichokes to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and repeat with the remaining artichokes. Using a fork or your fingers, try to separate the leaves of the artichokes so they open up like a flower.
  5. Raise the heat and bring the oil to 350°F (180°C) to fully fry and crisp up the artichokes.
  6. Fry the artichokes one at a time: Add the artichoke stem side up to the hot oil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip it with kitchen tongs and fry until the leaves brown, pressing the artichoke gently down into the oil so that it opens up like a flower. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
  7. Once the artichokes have cooled slightly, sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, with a few slices of lemon on the side, if desired.
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