domenica 3 febbraio 2013

Artichoke fritters!

(Cliccate qua per la versione italiana di questo post.)

Ingredients

2 lb. (32 oz.) artichokes, cleaned and trimmed (if you don't use fresh artichokes, frozen ones are better than those from a can or jar)
3 eggs
fresh mint, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
1 cup feta
lemon zest
1 tsp paprika
salt
black pepper
1.5 cups flour
extra-virgin olive oil
some lemons

Preparation of the artichokes

If you're using frozen artichokes or those from a can or jar, you may scroll down and skip to Preparation of the Fritters.

Artichokes are very rich in iron. For that reason, as soon as you cut them, they oxidize immediately upon contact with the air, and they turn black. Your hands will turn black, too! Therefore, put on a pair of kitchen gloves (also to avoid getting pricked by the barbs of the hard, outside leaves.) Have a bowl ready, filled with cold water and the juice of one or two lemons. The lemon will stop the oxidation. (The lemons are useful also for cleaning any blackness from your hands, should they inadvertently come in contact with the artichokes.)

Eliminate two or three rows of outside leaves. With a knife, cut the top of the artichoke, giving it a flat top. With scissors, trim the barbs of the remaining leaves. Cut the artichokes in half. With a corer or a paring knife (or with your fingers), remove the "hay", the central part composed of the unpleasant pappus and florets, which would sting your palate.

Don't forget that, during this whole process, you're keeping the cut artichokes in the lemon water.

So, the artichokes are ready to be boiled. But cooking will also blacken them. What is the solution? You could boil them in a "vegetable bleach," which becomes a rather complicated process (requiring salt, lemon, oil, flour ...) In this case, because the lemon flavor is desired in this dish, you can simply boil the artichokes in salted water in the following proportion: the juice of one lemon per one liter of water.

Preparation of the Fritters

Cut the artichokes in 4. Mix all of the ingredients except the flour and oil. Add the flour slowly. Mix thoroughly. Heat the oil in a skillet. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot oil. Fry until golden (not too brown), 4 or 5 minutes per side. Remove the fritters from the pan and place them on brown paper for a minute, to absorb the oil. It is important to serve them hot; if necessary, keep them in the oven. When ready to serve the fritters, place them on a plate, add salt, and garnish with lemon slices.

I suppose that, in lieu of lemon, a garlicky yogurt sauce, Mediterranean style, would be an option. You could also add dill to the mixture, or to the yogurt ... But these options are not to my taste. For me, the mint and the lemon must remain the two stars of the show.

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