Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fried Baby Artichoke Hearts

Fried artichoke hearts are my favorite vegetable side dish, my favorite appetizer and my favorite recipe to pass along. My grandmother could not keep up with the demand and had to shoo the grandchildren away, so she could accumulate enough to set out on the table.

How to Clean a Baby Artichoke:

First of all you need to select a good candidate. The heavier the artichoke for its size, the better, and I prefer those with rounded tops. Cut off the stem and start peeling away the outer, tougher leaves until you feel less resistance. You should have gotten to the lighter and yellowish colored leaves. Next cut off the top third of the artichoke and for this dish, cut them in half lengthwise and set aside in water with lemon juice so they do not oxidize and turn color.

24 baby artichokes
1C flour
3 eggs
2 cloves garlic
1 5" sprig of rosemary
olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of the frying pan by3/4")


After selecting and cleaning the artichoke hearts, steam in a microwave or on the stove top for about 5 minutes. This is a trick employed by my aunt Evelyn to cut down on the cooking time of the fried artichokes, and a great trick it is. You do not want to cook them all the way through, just long enough to start the cooking process. Place the olive oil into a large frying pan along with the sprig of rosemary and 2 peeled cloves of garlic that have been crushed with the flat side of a chef's knife) or your hand. The object is to flavor the oil as it is heated over a medium flame, so I sometimes bruise the rosemary too.

Next step is to beat the eggs and add salt and pepper if you wish, but I personally never use pepper and only salt after the frying and draining of the artichokes. Flour each artichoke half; since they are damp from steaming, they will hold the flour very well. Next step is to add the artichoke to the egg batter and place into the frying pan for gentle frying for about 5 minutes on each side. The artichokes on the top half of the photo above have been turned, while the others on the lower half are still frying on their first side.

Drain the artichokes on paper toweling or any oil absorbent paper (I've been known to use paper shopping bags in a pinch) and salt them, then serve. They're good warm or at room temperature.

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