Carciofini Fritti con Limone e Prezzemolo
Pan-Fried Baby Artichokes with Lemon and Parsley
I love artichokes- and especially these little darlings that I picked up at the market hall yesterday. For someone that is a little unsure of preparing the full-sized artichokes, these are a great way to get started and to practice getting a good flavor- without worrying about too much prep work and removing that troublesome "choke".
I am not going to try to tell you that they are any less "troublesome" to eat than the large ones- you do still have a plateful of the tough ends of the leaves to get rid of.... But you can pick these individual slices up and bite off the whole of the tender end which is nice. And the nice toasted flavor that they get on each side from roasting in the pan does makes them much more delicious!
Pluck away the outermost leaves and peel away the outer layer of the stems. Do not cut the whole stem off or you will regret it! It is probable the most delicious part of the artichoke of all in this young and tender version. Next, the text books- and everybody else out there, tells you to cover the cut surface of the artichokes with lemon juice or to submerge them into a bath of water and lemon- to prevent them from oxidizing and turning dark and ugly... which they will do. Ok people- this is ME talking here... why do people feel the need to do that? At a restaurant, when professional cooks may need to prepare large quantities of the things... ok. But at home? What are you waiting for? Get those things cut and get them into your frying pan!
So first things first- get your pan hot and add a little olive oil. Cut the artichokes in half and then cut the halves into 3-4 slices, depending on their size. Get the artichokes into that hot pan, get them coated in oil and flip them over. That should solve your problems with the oxidation. Fry on each side for 2-3 minutes until they begin to brown. Season with salt and pepper and then add maybe a cupful of hot water. Sounds strange- but fear not! At this point you can also add some finely chopped garlic. If you had added it earlier, it would have ended up burning and tasting bitter. This way it will infuse the artichokes with flavor.
Continue cooking until the water has evaporated. Now take a lemon and scrape off the zest to use for garnishing later. Cut the rest into slices and add these to the pan. Squeeze them down a little so that they release their juice and make sure to get the artichokes well coated in it. When they begin to go brown, add water again and repeat the procedure of cooking the water off.
By now the artichokes should be nice and tender. Add a final last touch of olive oil, some finely chopped parsley and sprinkle with lemon zest- and you are ready to serve! Wonderful!