Friday, November 20, 2009

Fried purple artichokes

I didn't think I would be doing quite so much deep-frying in Italy, but I have a real weakness for anything battered and fried. I saw these beautiful purple artichokes on the fruit and veg stall at Bagni's little twice-weekly market and asked the market lady what the best way to cook them was. She gave me a slightly dismissive list of possible methods, but this was the one that appealed to me so I quizzed her a bit further.



Ingredients
4 purple artichokes
1 lemon
salt
flour
2 eggs
olive oil



Method

  1. Remove the stalks and all the tough outer leaves from the artichokes. (Don't be a miser here. If you're in doubt about whether a leaf is too tough or not, then it probably is.)
  2. Cut off the tips of the artichokes. (Again, be brutal.)
  3. Quarter the artichokes lengthwise, and run your finger down the inside to check for spikes. If there are any then just trim them off.
  4. Put the artichoke quarters in a large bowl of cold water into which you have squeezed the juice of 1 lemon.
  5. Drain the artichokes but not too thoroughly - a bit of water will help make the flour stick to them.
  6. Coat each of the artichoke pieces in plenty of flour then dip them in beaten egg, making sure they are completely covered.
  7. Heat a large pan with plenty of olive oil. Don't let the oil get too hot, or the eggy batter will burn but the artichokes won't cook. When the oil is hot enough, fry the artichoke pieces in batches, turning when they are cooked underneath.
  8. Remove the cooked artichoke from the oil, drain and serve with some lemon quarters. They should be crispy and light on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside.

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