You know spring has sprung when you see the first baby artichokes in the market. I love artichokes, and all the wonderful things that you can do with them. Two things that you should know about artichokes: they are really flowers and the plant looks like it’s from outer space, and they will turn your hands black when you cut them up so latex gloves will help if you don’t like dirty looking fingers. Ok, that’s three things.
Last night we celebrated the beginning of spring with a side of artichoke chips.
2-3 sprigs of fresh mint
Oil for frying
Flour for dusting
Clean the baby artichokes by tearing off all the tough outer leaves and making a clean cut on the stem. It’s looks like a lot of wastage, and it is, but you can’t really chew through those tough leaves. Slice the artichokes as thinly as you would like and then place in a bowl of acidulated (lemon) water.
Drain well and pat dry, or spin dry in a salad spinner.
Dust with flour and a dash of salt. You can do this by placing ½ cup or so of flour in a plastic bag, with the sliced artichokes, and gently shaking the bag. Then pour the artichokes into a strainer and eliminate any excess flour.
Fry the slices in abundant, hot (350F) vegetable oil. Work in batches so that you don’t lower the oil temp too much. Keeping the oil hot is key; this way you don’t have greasy, soggy artichoke chips, so resist the temptation to dump them all in the oil at once. Remove when brown, and drain on absorbent paper. I like to line a metal mixing bowl with paper towels, toss the finished artichoke slices into the bowl with a tiny sprinkle of salt, and keep warm as I cook the rest of the slices.
When you are done frying and ready to serve, add a little more salt if necessary, remove the paper towels, add some finely chopped mint, and give everything a toss in the bowl to distribute the salt and mint. Pour into a serving bowl, garnish with some fresh lemon and you are good to go.
Happy Spring to those of us on the North Side, and Happy Fall to those of us “Down Under”!