Friday, April 28, 2017

Fried Baby Artichokes

The day I went out to get the artichokes for Seder salad, Artie was laying on the ground.  Either he uprooted from his own weight or something jumped on him overnight.  I was able to prop up the plant and cut off the largest buds, but he was clearly in trouble.

After Seder, I decided that the few remaining buds weren't going to get any bigger and cut them.  Barely as large as my thumb and mostly tough leaf, I went searching for a way to salvage them.

The Chew had a labor-intensive recipe for twice-fried artichokes.  Their baby artichokes were twice the size of what I was working with, so I've adapted this for the itty-bitty pieces I ended up with.  This method will also work with any size of immature bud, but not a mature one with a choke.

I don't think I've ever discussed the Baby Artichoke debate.  The way an artichoke plant blooms is to put up one thick stalk in the middle, which develops the largest bud.  That is what generally makes it to the market for $3 apiece.  The stalk then branches off into 5 thinner stalks.  The top of those produces what is normally considered "baby artichokes", which are no bigger than a baseball.  Some markets call them Medium, depending on where you live.  Each of those stalks is good for at least one more generation, and I was getting two (down to great-grandbabies of the main bud) until the root snapped.  If those are large enough in a commercial farm, they end up as frozen or marinated artichokes.  They're generally underdeveloped and never build a choke.  So, next time you see "baby artichokes" in the farmer's market, you now know that they're just full-grown later buds that the farmer has named something cute to sell it.

*12 baby artichokes (8 if they're a little larger)
*2 cloves garlic
*1 lemon
olive oil for frying
salt to taste

1.  Fill a small bowl halfway with water.  Squeeze half a lemon into it and drop in the empty peel for good measure.

2.  To prepare the artichokes, tear off the toughest leaves until you start to get down to the more edible ones.  Pare off the skin of the base and short stem, then cut off the top 1/3 of each bud.  Slice into 1/4" thick cross-sections.  I got 3 out of each of mine.  Drop slices in the acidulated water as you go to keep them from turning black.
3.  Once done with the artichokes, drain them while you heat 1/2" of oil in a 10" skillet.  Slice garlic thinly and toss into heating oil.  Once the garlic is browning, the oil is hot enough and you can toss in the artichoke in a single layer.  I highly recommend finding that splatter guard you never use.  Cook until petals brown, turn outward, and get crisp, about 5 minutes.  You can turn them during cooking if they're not submerged.
4.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.  Sprinkle with salt, place on a serving plate, and drizzle with juice of remaining lemon half.  Serve hot, maybe with a garlic aioli on the side.

Difficulty rating :)

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