Fried Artichokes (carciofi fritti)

I was craving something truly Italian today all the way in Mississippi.  Had some drop in guests for dinner.  I always have a bag of frozen artichoke hearts on hand.  This recipe is guaranteed to fry up delicious and crunchy.  With a little squeeze of lemon, and some salt and parsley, it's the perfect appetizer or side dish.

I really love the how versatile artichokes can be.  Here in the South, you just don't find many people who know how to cook them, so they use them for decoration.  What a waste of a wonderful vegetable. I try to eat one every day when I am in Italy and they are in season.  Imagine the excitement when artichoke hearts appeared in the freezer here in the south. I just had to try it.  What you can find here  fresh on occasion  is large and spiny.  I recently found some fresh, baby, sun kissed artichokes in Memphis, TN.  I bought all they had, cooked them and placed in the freezer for future pasta and risotto recipes.   I did not think to fry them as my quantity was so limited. This method applies for frozen and fresh baby artichokes.  The only additional step involved is taking away those outer, tough, leaves and removing just a little of the choke.  Then, place them in lemon water and quickly pat them dry  before coating them for frying.
For these, check your grocer's freezer. You will be happy you did.  Here is a quick, last minute appetizer for those drop in guests or just because you are craving something to snack on with your family.  I will include both methods just in case you can find fresh baby artichokes.  Buon Appetito~

one 12 oz bag of baby artichokes/ thawed and drained
one cup flour
2 eggs
one deep narrow pan for frying/artichoke will be submerged under oil while cooking
Vegetable oil 3 inches deep in your pan
salt to taste
Fresh lemon to taste / wedges to garnish
Parsley for garnish

In  a colander, drain your frozen artichokes.  Add a little salt.  Dry well with paper towels. Add your oil to your skillet and heat to med/high, being careful not to let the oil smoke or burn.  If  this happens, your heat is up to high.  Turn it down.  Do not worry to much if a little water remains on your artichoke.  Coat them with flour.  Coat them with egg and salt them slightly. Coat them with flour again.  Do not worry if they look a bit sticky.  You will be able to separate while cooking.  When the oil is hot, carefully slip in your artichoke pieces.  You will notice they will sizzle and expand some.  If they stick together, you can break them apart with a fork. When you see the edges turning golden, give them a turn.  They will turn golden again after a few minutes in the hot oil. It takes some practice.  Be careful as the oil will sometimes pop while cooking.  This is normal.  Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.  Place on a serving dish, garnish with lemon and parsley.  Buon Appetito~

Method 2/ Using fresh baby artichokes
Clean your artichokes by pulling back your outer leaves and trim off your bottoms. Cut an 1/8 of an inch of the tips, place them in a bowl of fresh water that has 1/3 cup lemon juice and a pinch of baking soda  in it.  The lemon juice and baking soda  will keep them fresh and bright green.
Quickly prepare your oil,  Drain and dry your fresh artichokes. Coat them in the same manner and fry.  Please keep in mind that your fresh baby artichoke might take additional time to cook. Keep an eye on them while cooking.  Drain on paper towels and serve.  Buon Appetito


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