The first time I had fried artichokes was at a little place in our neighborhood called Supreme; they went out of business shortly after we moved in, or I’d probably have the artichoke equivalent of a beer belly by now. Since then, I never pass up a chance to eat fried artichokes (including the classic Carciofi alla Giudia of Rome) but hadn’t made them at home.
Last week when I was working on the City Fruit dinner, I was also reading Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s new Jersualem cookbook. It isn’t at all vegetarian, unlike Ottolenghi’s previous offering (Plenty), but is absolutely stunning and makes me wish to make another trip to Israel as soon as possible. In one of his recipes, he mentions simmering an unpeeled orange and then blitzing it in the blender and incorporating it into a sauce (for salmon, if I remember right).
I decided to try using the boiled orange as the basis of an olive oil emulsion. I thought it might actually reach to a vegan mayo type consistency, and I’m sure it would if you added lecithin, but as-is it makes a delicious dressing that I plan to use in many future dishes. The instructions below make more than you will need for the artichokes, but it is about the smallest amount that is practical and I don’t think you will have any problems coming up with uses for the extra.
For frying the artichokes, you can go one of two ways. Actual deep-frying is preferable – they will cook more quickly and evenly. But shallow frying is a functional choice too that wastes less oil. I’ve had you quarter the artichokes so that they are in small enough pieces for the shallow fry to work.
Don’t even think about doing this with canned artichoke hearts, it will be terrible. There are instructions for how to trim the artichokes below, in case you haven’t done it before. For this dish in particular, we want everything that you are serving to the guest to be fully edible, so be quite aggressive in removing the outer leaves and top of the artichoke. Here is how it should look before frying:
Fried Artichokes with Orange-Olive Oil Emulsion
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and kosher
Serves 4 as an appetizer
For the Orange-Olive Oil Emulsion
- 1/2 orange, skin on, cut into 4 slices
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Put orange slices in a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until there are just a few tablespoons of liquid left in the pan, about 45 minutes.
- Put orange and orange liquid in blender along with sherry vinegar, mustard, and kosher salt. Put lid on and start blender on medium speed. With the blender running, remove the center cap from the lid and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Just before serving, blend again to re-emulsify.
For the Fried Artichokes
- 4 medium globe artichokes or 8 baby artichokes
- 1 lemon, halved
- Oil for shallow or deep frying (see above)
- Maldon (aka the world’s greatest salt)
- To prepare the artichokes: As you are working, rub each cut surface with the open surface of the lemon to prevent browning. Remove the coarse outer leaves, cut off the top third to half of the leaves, trim the stem, peel the base and stem, cut vertically into quarters, and remove the choke and any pointy leaves.
- Line a plate with paper towels. If shallow frying, put about 1/8″ oil in a skillet over medium-high flame. If deep frying, set up a deep fryer or medium saucepan with enough oil to fully cover the quartered artichokes and heat to 355 F. Fry the artichokes, turning occasionaly, until really well browned. Remove with tongs to the paper towels, season with Maldon salt, and allow to drain for a few seconds.
- Serve very hot, either plated with the Orange-Olive Oil Emulsion or passing that on the side.