Friday, January 31, 2014

Low Maintenance Artichokes (video)

YouTube Link: Trimming and Roasting Artichokes
More Videos: Helen's Kitchen Channel

Carciofi alla Giudia (Jewish artichokes) -- just the name of this dish was fascinating to me.  Who knew Jews cooked artichokes?  I grew up in a Jewish household and couldn't think of one green vegetable that was revered enough to be considered a "dish."  But that's Eastern European Jews.  There were so many Jewish cuisines I was completely unaware of.  As you can imaging, I couldn't leave Rome without tasting Carciofi alla Giudia.  Unlike their gray insipid cousins that people usually get out of cans in the US, artichokes in Rome were a revelation.  They were deep-fried to gorgeous crispness opening up like a rose in hot oil.  The moment I got back to Boston (this was 10 years ago, by the way), I got some artichokes, trimmed them, put them in acidulated water, and then tried to deep fry them.  Kids, don't try that at home.  I was lucky I didn't burn the house down.  Putting wet things into hot oil is not a good idea.

I stayed far away from artichokes for years.  It was Amy Glaze's post that finally got me to try them again. She is both an amazing chef and writer.  Her use of serrated knife to trim them is much more efficient than kitchen shears.  I was feeling brave that day and decided to ditch acidulated water.  Who cares if they look ugly?  I tossed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper; and pan roasted them to deep golden brown.  It was as close as I could get to Carciofi alla Giudia without the mess of deep frying.  They were so delicious that I now buy artichokes almost weekly to make this dish.  As delicious as they are out of the pan, they are even better the next day after the flavors had a chance to mingle.  Unfortunately, I rarely have enough will power to make them last till next day.

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