More artichokes and deep-frying this week. But unlike our Rapini Fritto Misto, this recipe is as easy as deep-frying gets, and the results are one of the best ways you can enjoy artichokes. The only challenge is getting the baby artichokes.
Baby or “spring” artichokes are simply small artichokes that have yet to develop tough leaves or thorns and can be eaten (mostly) whole. You can find them at the farmers market early in the spring and fall growing seasons. The problem is that artichokes grow so quickly that sometimes our local farmer/supplier can’t pick enough of the baby artichokes to meet demand. And there is plenty of demand from chefs and home cooks (and the growers wisely keep some for themselves). So far we have detected a pattern that if it’s warm and sunny the artichokes will be bigger and we will miss out on the baby artichokes. If it is cold and rainy we seem to have better supply. But this is a small, local sample, so who knows?
Happily, last week we scored some absolutely beautiful baby artichokes that were no more than 2 inches in size. We normally cook the baby artichokes with potatoes. But this week we decided to try a recipe Carolyn saw on TV. Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa, again. But Ina and Alice Waters rarely let us down with their veggie recipes, so we decided to give this one a try.
And as frying recipes go, this is very easy and much less messy. You simply trim and split the baby artichokes, place them in a pot with some garlic cloves, salt, pepper and thyme and add just enough olive oil to cover. Bring the oil to a boil, then lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer the artichokes for 15 minutes. Then test for doneness with the tip of a knife- if it easily pierces the heart of the artichokes, they are ready. You don’t even need a thermometer for this recipe.
Once ready, remove the garlic and thyme, and turn the artichokes and cook for 2-3 more minutes until browned and crispy. Remove the artichokes from the oil and allow to drain on a rack or plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and some mayonnaise or rémoulade (we love rémoulade and veggies).
And these artichokes are sooo good. The artichokes are earthy and sweet, the leaves are crispy and the hearts are still soft. The zing of the lemon juice and the creamy rémoulade are perfect matches with the artichokes. And this dish passed the kid test- both boys loved these. We ate them all in under 5 minutes. And this is the one last thought we will leave you with, make this dish as a starter to share before a meal. The artichokes are best when hot and they won’t make it out of the kitchen anyway.
Fried Baby Artichokes:
(Adapted from Ina Garten)
Notes Before You Start:
- When prepping the artichokes take all tough leaves off until you reach the light green leaves. If you see any development of the “choke” in the center or thorns, just trim them.
- If you prep the artichokes ahead of time, place them in acidulated water (water with a few tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar), to keep the artichokes from discoloring.
What You Get: Super-crispy and tasty artichokes. One of the best snacks we can imagine.
What You Need: No special equipment required. This is one of the least gear-intensive frying recipes out there.
How Long? 25-30 minutes with about 5-10 minutes of prep time for the artichokes. This is an anytime dish, you just need to get the baby artichokes.
(serves 4 people as a snack)
- 10-15 baby artichokes
- Olive oil (expect 2-3 cups)
- 6 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Trim the baby artichokes by cutting off the stem and removing any tough dark-green outer leaves. Cut the artichokes in half.
- Place the artichokes in heavy, lidded, medium-sized pot. Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Add olive oil to cover.
- Using medium-high heat, bring the oil to a boil. Once boiling move the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer the artichokes in the oil for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes test the artichokes for doneness with the tip of a knife. If it easily pierces the heart of the artichoke, they are ready. When done, remove the garlic and thyme from the pot and then turn the artichokes and let them cook in the oil for another 2-3 minutes until brown and crispy.
- When the artichokes are golden brown and crispy, remove from the pot and drain on a rack or plate lined with paper towels. Season with salt and some lemon juice, to taste. Serve while hot along with mayonnaise or rémoulade.