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Thursday, August 05, 2010

By popular demand: Another Artichoke recipe

We used to beg our grandmother for these mouthwatering Artichoke Fritters. Nonnie showed me how to make them a few times as I was growing up, but nothing was ever written down. I cobbled this recipe together from other Castroville recipe books and my memories.

(This recipe has a lotta heart, but sorry, it’s not the heart-healthy version. In photo above: daughter #1, my Dad, daughter #2)

(Artichoke Fritters)
  • 10 or 12 small fresh artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 c. milk or beer
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. Bisquick
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 or 3 sprigs of ITALIAN parsley, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup (small handful) onion chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp. white vinegar or lemon juice (for preserving color of cut artichokes)
Clean and chop the artichoke hearts*. Combine all ingredients well. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls into hot, deep vegetable oil and cook until golden and crisp. (A deep iron fry pan, or dutch oven works best.) Place fritters on paper towels to drain, salt to taste, and serve hot. Mangia!

*To prepare fresh artichokes for frying:
For best results use fresh artichokes--the fresh ones will still be a little al dente after cooking and fun to bite. Small artichokes, should be approximately 3 inches long. Snap off outer green leaves until you see leaves which show a yellow tint. Cut off stem at base, and cut off top third of bud crosswise, to remove all thorns. Cut the full bud in half lengthwise, then again into lengthwise quarters. The center of the bud should be a little fuzzy (this is the “choke”) but not purple. If this choke area is coarse or purple, pare it out with a small knife. While you’re working, drop the cleaned whole chokes into water which has a few teaspoons of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice added. This will keep them from oxidizing, or turning dark, during preparation. Drain the artichoke quarters before you chop them for the fritter batter, so that the batter doesn’t get too watered down.

Note: Some folks leave the artichokes in quarters when they put them in the batter. This is OK, but Nonnie always chopped them a little finer so that you had to use a large spoon to drop the batter into the oil! 

Additional note, after feedback from my Aunt and her cousin: The above recipe was adjusted to make the following changes--include the option of using beer instead of milk, added 1/2 c. of Bisquick with less baking soda, only one egg instead of two. The garlic is now optional. If you don't have Bisquick, add an egg, a bit more flour, and another 1/2 tsp. of baking powder. My Aunt said, "I also remember she added chopped onion and italian parsley and a lot of sliced baby artichokes. Meaning that you should not have a lot of batter, just enough batter to hold the artichokes together."

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