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Crispy Fried Artichokes


This is adapted from Anna Dente Ferracci's recipe for whole fried artichokes served at her restaurant, Osteria di San Cesario, outside of Rome. Known as Sora ("sister") Anna, this celebrated chef and her mother, Sora Maria, are queens of the Italian fried artichoke.

Wine recommendations: By frying in extra-virgin olive oil, the artichoke's natural sweetness is enhanced and its bitter tannins are lost. The frying also creates a crunchy texture and unctuousness in the mouth because of the oil. A structured, creamy white wine would match the flavor intensity of the dish yet provide enough acidity to refresh the palate. Try the fried artichokes with Fazi Battaglia's 2005 Le Moie Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore or Tedeschi's single vineyard 2005 Vigneto Monte Tenda Soave Classico.

Anna Dente Ferracci
10 tender, small artichokes with stalks
1 lemon cut into four wedges
4 cups (1-liter bottle) extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
To prepare the artichokes: With the artichoke on its side, cut off the top half and discard. You should see tender yellow leaves and the pink spiky choke at the center. Snap off the tough dark green outer leaves until you reach the tender ones. With a knife, slice off the woody skin on the outside of the stock, leaving about two inches from the base. Cut the artichoke into halves, then quarters and remove any thistly parts. Cut into eighths or thin wedges and place in a large bowl of water with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Artichokes oxidize when cut and putting them in lemon water will stop them from turning brown.

To fry the artichokes: Pour olive oil into a fryer or thick pot and place over low heat. Coat a ceramic plate with a layer of flour. Gently press the moist artichoke wedges directly into the flour so they are covered evenly. The oil is ready when a drop of water crackles and fizzles to evaporation: Never let the oil get so hot it starts to smoke. Add the floured artichoke wedges to the oil, in separate batches to avoid overcrowding, and fry until crisp and golden. Serve hot with salt.
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