Carciofi alla giudia (which translates to ‘Jewish-style artichokes’) can be best described as ‘golden sunflowers’ that are as addicting and poppable as potato chips. This is a traditional Roman-Jewish fried artichoke recipe that can be found in cookbooks that go as far back as the 16th century, and were prepared all the time especially for Yom Kippur. They are so deliciously nutty and crunchy, it’s no wonder this dish has been so popular over the years.
Of course the best place to have these is ‘when in Rome’, which is where Stanley Tucci had them (at La Reginella) in the Rome episode of Searching for Italy. But if you’re itching to make these from the comfort of your own home, then we have the recipe for you!
What Kind of Artichokes Should You Use?
The recipe is traditionally made with Roman cimaroli (or mammole) artichokes, which are large, round, tender and sometimes have a violet hue. These are the ideal ones to use for this recipe because they are plucked before their chokes have developed, and they don’t have those sharp thorns that the American globes have.
If you’re not able to get your hands on Roman mammoles, don’t worry. You can get definitely use regular large artichokes – you’ll just need to remove the tough outer leaves, the choke, and trim down the leaves (which we’ll provide in more detail below.)
Why is there a 2-Stage Frying Process?
Much like French fries, the 1st round is to cook and tenderize. While the 2nd round is to get them golden and crispy.
This also allows you to mix and match different oil combinations for each round. For subtle oil flavors that allow the taste of the artichoke to shine through, use light-tasting olive oil, vegetable or canola oils. For a more traditional flavor profile, use extra virgin olive oil. And for something a little bit nuttier try sunflower seed oil.
Roman-Jewish Fried Artichokes (Carciofi alla Giudia) – Searching for Italy Recipe
Carciofi alla Giudia from 'Searching for Italy' with Stanley Tucci. A Roman-Jewish Fried Artichoke recipe from Rome.
In a large bowl, we're going to create acidulated water* (which is just a fancy term for water with lemons) that helps keep your artichokes from turning brown! Fill the bowl with water and the squeezed juice of the lemons, along with the full lemon rinds.
In a small bowl, mix salt and pepper and set aside.
Prepping the Artichokes
Remove the tough outer leaves until you only have the tender and pale leaves of the inside remaining. It should look like a closed ‘rose’ similar to the picture here.
With a pairing knife, trim off the top 1/3 of the leaves. It should now look like a closed ‘rose bud’
Trim the stem to about 1 inch, and use a peeler on the remaining stem to remove the tough fibrous exterior.
Fully immerse the artichoke in the acidulated (lemon) water, while you work on the rest of them.
Repeat until all are completed.
1st Round of Frying
In a Dutch oven, put in enough oil to completely cover the artichokes (about 3-4 inches)
While waiting for the oil to heat, remove the artichokes from the lemon water to dry them on top of paper towels. We recommend tapping the top of the artichoke against the table to loosen any water droplets that are inside of the leaves.
Sprinkle them with the salt and pepper mixture.
Once the oil is about 325F, you can place them in.
Cook for about 15 minutes making sure to occasionally turn them over with tongs. You’ll know they’re complete once they start to turn a golden color.
Remove with a slotted spoon and lay them stem-facing up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Removing the Chokes
Once the artichokes have cooled, gently open the leaves and remove the choke* (that 'fuzzy' bit on the inside) with a melon baller. This is also a good time to try and get the leaves to spread open as much as possible.
With the stem facing up, they can be covered and left in the fridge or at room temp until you’re ready to do the 2nd round of frying. We recommend doing the 2nd round of frying right before serving so that they are as crisp and fresh as possible.
2nd Round of Frying
In a Dutch oven, put in enough oil to completely cover the artichokes (about 3-4 inches) and heat to 350F. This can be the same oil as the first round, or a completely different oil if you choose.
Place them stem-facing up in the oil until they crisp, working in batches.
If you want, you can also carefully use tongs to push them to the bottom of the pot. This will help to brown the top of the artichoke even further, and will also get the leaves to ‘blossom’ open like a flower.
Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them stem-facing up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.