Have you ever eaten something so delicious that you wanted to cry?
According to Joyce Goldstein, chef and author of several books, including Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen (1998), that’s what it’s like to eat carciofi alla giudia, the deep-fried artichokes that have been prepared by Roman Jews for centuries.
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Simply put, it’s fried food nirvana: crunchy, crispy, creamy from petal to heart, with nothing but salt and a spritz of lemon juice amping up the vegetable’s sweet, nutty, delicate savoriness. And they’re an architectural showpiece for cooks, the blossoms so dramatically splayed and browned, they look like copper-dipped chrysanthemums.
Preparing them requires a bit of ceremony, mostly due to the variety of artichoke that’s available in the States. Unlike the native Italian varieties, which are thornless and mature before the hairy choke develops, the globe (sometimes called French) plant grown here develops spiny bracts and a choke by the time the vegetable is large enough to harvest.
I’ll walk you through the knife work, which will produce artichokes that are fully edible after frying—no dismantling at the table required. That prep and the first fry are even doable 24 hours ahead, so the last-minute effort is fast and easy. And I promise the stunning visual and potato-chip crunch of the leaves will be worth it.
How to Prep Artichokes for Frying
1. Snap off outer leaves.
2. Trim and peel stem.
3. Cut top at 45-degree angle.
4. Rotate quarter turn; repeat 3 times.
5. Halve lengthwise through stem.