You can’t miss Da Giggetto because of the giant tower of artichokes at the door. Located on a Roman charming street in the former Jewish ghetto, this is the place for Carciofi alla Giudea – crisp on the outside, meltingly tender in the middle, pressed flower looking artichokes. It’s a local specialty, and so delicious. The key is to fry the artichokes twice, to get them extra extra crispy. These make an amazing appetizer when artichokes are at the peak of their season.
If you can’t find small artichokes, you will have to par boil larger ones for about 5-10 minutes to hasten the cooking process.
2 lemons, juiced
4 small roman artichokes (purple ones)
1 quart olive oil
1 quart canola oil
2 sprigs rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, quartered for garnish
Prepare an ice bath and add the lemon juice. Prepare the artichokes by trimming the artichoke leaves all the way around and chopping off the top 1 to 2 inches (depending how big your artichokes are). Use a vegetable peeler to peel the stem. Pop the artichokes into the ice bath as you finish – they oxidize quickly and this prevents that.
Meanwhile, in a deep, heavy bottomed pot, heat up the olive oil and canola oil to 325F. I combined them so that you have the flavor or the olive oil and the higher cooking point of the canola. Thoroughly dry off the artichokes (remember to dump them upside-down so that all of the water comes out) – seriously, the water will bubble violently if it hits oil – and add them to the oil (you may have to do it in batches). The oil will drop to 300F, and fry for about 15 minutes. Using tongs, push the artichokes down, smashing them into the bottom of the pan and cook for about a minute. You want to create a “pressed flower” effect. After 15 minutes, take out the artichokes, draining them on paper towels. At this point, you can hold the artichokes – freeze them even – for future use, and fry them up quickly a second time.
Let the artichokes rest for at least 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. With your fingers, spread the artichokes even more open. Turn up the oil to 385F, and add the artichokes again. Fry for another 10 minutes until the artichokes are a deep golden brown. Remove from oil, drain on paper towels, and immediately season with salt and pepper. Serve one artichoke per person and give them wedges of lemon to season.