My mom is visiting for Easter and she made one of her “cavalli di battaglia” (winning horses?), which is, best ever dishes, Carciofi Alla Giudia. According to my mother, this is a typical Roman Easter dish, to the point some Romans had it for breakfast on Easter morning, together with the intestines of some animal (a part of the tradition that I can leave to the old generations).
This way of cooking artichokes was developed by the Jewish community which populated Rome as early as 150 b.c. The community became so rooted in Rome that represented about 10% of Rome’s inhabitants before 1935. More info here. Anyway, as I said, they were so rooted in Rome that many of the most traditional Roman dishes are actually Roman Jewish. And it is also the case of these wonderful deep-fried artichokes that my mom learned from my grandma, an eight generations back Roman.
The peculiarity of this dish is in its simplicity. The art is in the cleaning and the cooking of the vegetables.
CARCIOFI ALLA GIUDIA – DEEP FRIED ARTICHOKES
You need: 4 artichokes (choose the smallest and most tender ones you can find), 1 cup olive oil, salt, black pepper, juice of 1 lemon.
How to: Carefully clean the artichokes, cutting the top, removing the inedible tough outer leaves (generally is enough to eliminate 1 or 2 external layers), as well as the inner white “barbetta” (little beard). Put the clean artichokes in a large bowl with water and the juice of the lemon. You can let the artichokes rest there even overnight. Drain the artichokes, generously sprinkle the inside with salt and pepper and fill with olive oil, while you open the inner leaves like a flower. Place, on the lateral side, in an iron skillet with remaining oil on high heat and make the artichokes brown on all sides, turning them often with a fork. Lower the heat, add a few spoons of water and cover the pan. Cook until tender. Toward the end of the cooking, flip the artichokes with the stem up, again opening them as flowers and pushing them slightly toward the pan. They are cooked when also the bottom part feels tender to the fork.
CONSIDERATIONS: Don’t they looks scrumptious? I am so glad I got to have real Roman artichokes (my mom brought them with her from Rome!) for Easter and that I got to follow step-by-step the traditional “Alla Giudia” way of cooking that my mom has long been “famous” for (at least in our small family and friends community). This has been one of the nicest Easters in a long while… how was yours?
You may also like these steamed artichokes.