Archive | Carciofi & Cardi – Artichokes & Cardoons RSS feed for this archive

La Pasqua Napoletana: Carciofi Fritti, Fried Artichokes

Simplicity in itself.

For six people you will need:

  • 6 artichokes (they should be firm and feel solid — soft or light artichokes will probably have fuzzy hearts)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • Flour
  • An egg, lightly beaten
  • Oil for frying

Squeeze the lemon into a bowl of water, drop the rind into the bowl, and add a pinch of salt and a little bit of flour (not enough to make a paste). 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. Soak them in the acidulated water for an hour. Then rinse them, pat them dry, flour them, dredge them in the egg, and fry them until crisp and golden in moderately hot oil (you don’t want the outside to burn before the inside is cooked).

About artichokes and preparing them
Other Neapolitan Easter Recipes

Advertisements

La Pasqua Napoletana: Carciofi e Patate Soffritti, Sautéed Artichokes and Potatoes

To serve 6:

  • 8 artichokes (they should be firm and feel solid — soft or light artichokes will probably have fuzzy hearts)
  • The juice of a half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil for the artichokes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 pounds (about 1.5 k) baby potatoes (if they’re small and fine-skinned they need not be peeled)
  • 1 pint olive oil for the potatoes
  • A bunch parsley, minced
  • Pepper to taste

If the potatoes are young and fine skinned, wash and rub them with a rough cloth. Otherwise, peel them.

Trim the tough outer leaves off the artichokes (continue until the exposed leaves are almost all white), cut the tops off (perpendicular to the length of the artichoke) and cut them into eighths, putting the slices into water acidulated with lemon juice to keep them from turning black. When you have finished cutting them up, pat them dry and sauté them in a pan with the oil, garlic, salt, and minced parsley. Begin over a low flame, covered, and after a little while uncover them and turn them often so they cook well on all sides, browning and almost coming apart. When they’re done drain away almost all the oil.

In the meantime heat the remaining oil in a high-sided pot suitable for frying, and add the potatoes in one fell swoop with a half cup of water. Let them cook gently at first, covering the pot so that they soften, and then raise the flame and uncover them to brown them.

Once the potatoes have browned, drain them and add them to the artichokes, together with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for about ten minutes over a very low flame.

About artichokes and preparing them
Other Neapolitan Easter Recipes

Preparing Artichokes the Italian Way

An Artichoke, Ready to be Prepared

An Artichoke, Ready to be Prepared

I remember the first time I had an artichoke, many years ago: It was steamed, and we pulled away the leaves, sucking the soft flesh from the leaf bases and discarding the rest, until we got to the artichoke hearts. This isn’t the Italian way, nor are instructions I have seen that call for trimming the tips of the leaves with shears particularly Italian. Rather, Italians begin with a fresh artichoke of the kind shown here, stem and all.

This particular artichoke is a fine example of a cultivar called Morellino, and has long, sharp spines on the ends of the petals. It’s important to get rid of them all.

Preparing an Artichoke: Strip Away The Outer Leaves

Preparing an Artichoke: Strip Away The Outer Leaves

Begin by rubbing your hands with a cut lemon to keep the artichoke’s juices from staining them. Next, start pulling away the tough outer leaves (pull down, towards the stem), working around the artichoke, until you reach the tenderer inner leaves, which will snap off much more easily. Exactly how many leaves one must remove is something learned with experience, but don’t be surprised if you discard a third or more of the leaves.

Preparing an Artichoke: Trim the Tip

Preparing an Artichoke: Trim the Tip

Once you have reached the tenderer inner leaves, you must trim the tip of the artichoke to dispose of the spines that even they have.

Preparing an Artichoke: The Tip, Trimmed

Preparing an Artichoke: The Tip, Trimmed

Rub your finger across the freshly cut surface of the artichoke to make certain there are no remaining spines. If there are, remove the offending leaves.

Preparing an Artichoke: Trim the Stem

Preparing an Artichoke: Trim the Stem

If you are planning to do something that requires standing the artichokes up, for example stuffing them, trim the stem flat with the base of the petals. Here we were going to need sliced artichokes, and trimmed the stem of the artichoke leaving about an inch (2.5 cm) below the petals.

Preparing an Artichoke: Paring the Stem

Preparing an Artichoke: Paring the Stem

If you look at the stem of an artichoke you will see a ring, with tough green bark (for want of a better term) surrounding a paler green heart. The “bark” is not good to eat, and you should remove it with a paring knife, leaving the heart of the stem, which is good to eat. When you’re done preparing the artichokes, peel the stems to reveal their hearts, and use the hearts too (chopped) in the recipe. Returning to our artichoke, the next step:

Preparing an Artichoke: Trimmed!

Preparing an Artichoke: Trimmed!

Artichokes discolor quickly when exposed to the air. To prevent this, rub the artichoke all over with a cut lemon.

Preparing an Artichoke: Halved

Preparing an Artichoke: Halved

The trimmed artichokes, cut in half. Note that their hearts have some fuzz. This fuzz is unpleasant to eat, and must go.

Preparing an Artichoke: Remove The Fuzz From the Heart

Preparing an Artichoke: Remove The Fuzz From the Heart

Use either a paring knife or a spoon to remove the fuzz from the heart of the artichoke.

Preparing an Artichoke: Slicing It

Preparing an Artichoke: Slicing It

The artichokes are now ready to be sliced. Depending upon what you are doing, you may want to quarter them, or cut them into eighths. Or, you may want to slice them as we did here, to go into baked pasta with artichokes. In any case, enjoy!

Carciofi alla Giudia, Roman Jewish Artichokes

Carciofo alla Giudia, a Jewish-Style Artichoke

Carciofo alla Giudia, a Jewish-Style Artichoke

When I first presented this recipe I wishfully thought that it could date back to Imperial times, when the Roman Jewish community numbered about 50,000. This is alas not the case; Clifford Wright argues convincingly that artichokes were bred from cardoons — which the Romans were aware of — by the Arabs in the early Middle Ages, probably in Sicily.

This simply means that the recipe is a bit more recent — the Strozzi family introduced artichokes to Florence from Naples in 1466, and I would assume that the Romans would have quickly become aware of something grown north and south of them if they weren’t already — and there is in any case no denying that carciofi alla giudia are a wonderful treat: They look like golden sunflowers and their leaves have a delicious nutty crunchiness.

You’ll need:

  • Artichokes (they should be large, round, and firm, and have some stem — 2-3 inches, or 5-7 cm). Figure one per person, and perhaps one more
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper
  • A half a lemon, and the juice of a second lemon for acidulating the water

Giuliano Malizia notes, in La Cucina Romana e del Lazio, that carciofi alla giudia are easy to make, but do require care.

You’ll want to begin by preparing the artichokes:

Take one and start trimming the leaves away, beginning from the base and removing the outer darker part of the leaves that is tough, while leaving the more tender inner part.

As you work your way up the artichoke you will have to trim away progressively less from each ring of leaves. When you reach a little past the half way point of the artichoke, where the leaves begin to slope in, make a horizontal cut to remove the top quarter or so of the artichoke. Next, cut into the top of the artichoke, keeping your knife almost vertical, to remove any spines there may be in the smaller leaves towards the heart of the flower.

Next, trim away the tip of the stem, which will likely be black — you will see a ring in the middle of the cut surface. The outside of an artichoke stem, beyond the ring, is tough and fibrous. What is inside is however both tender and tasty. Remove the fibrous part, rub the artichoke with a cut, partially squeezed lemon to keep it from blackening, and put it in a bowl of water acidulated with the juice of a lemon.

Do the next artichoke, and continue until you have prepared all your artichokes.

Come time to cook your artichokes, heat 3 inches (8 cm) of olive oil, or another oil with a high smoke point if you prefer, in a fairly deep, fairly broad pot (one large enough to contain the artichokes flat, and the oil should almost cover them).

While it is heating, stand your artichokes on absorbent paper to drain, and prepare a bowl with fine sea salt (non-iodized) and pepper. Season the artichokes inside and out with salt and pepper and shake off the excess. Some people also slip finely chopped garlic and parsley between the leaves, but purists frown at this.

Slip your artichokes into the hot oil and cook them for about 10 minutes, turning them in the oil so they cook evenly. Remove them to a plate lined with absorbent paper — at this point they’re partially cooked, and you could, if you want, resume cooking them later.

Assuming you want to enjoy them now, however, reheat your oil — it should be hot now, because this is the frying stage — before they simply cooked in the hot oil — and slip the first artichoke in, initially horizontally.

Fry the artichoke for 3-4 minutes, until the stem is browned, and then use a pair of long-handled implements along the lines of bbq forks to upend the artichoke. Press down gently; the leaves will brown thanks to the heat of the bottom of the pan, and the artichoke will open like a flower.

While the artichoke is browning, line a second plate with absorbent paper. Put the first artichoke to drain blossom down, and continue with the next. Continue until you have finished frying your artichokes.

I like them as is. You can, if you prefer, serve them with lemon wedges.

An Excellent Video Showing How To Prepare Carciofi alla Giudia