Crispy Violet Artichokes with Crème Fraiche and Watercress
The arrival of spring sees the introduction of some amazing produce. One of my favourites is baby violet artichokes. More tender than their globe cousins, they are at their very peak in April and May.
Carciofi alla giudia as it’s known in Rome (a dish made famous in the Jewish quarter of the city) is a delicious way of using baby artichokes. Extremely crispy on the outside, soft and nutty on the inside.
Serves 4 as a starter
You will need a deep fat fryer for this recipe - do not fill the fryer more than half full with oil.
8 medium sized baby violet artichokes
50ml white wine
1 bunch of watercress
50ml apple juice
2L of rapeseed oil
200g good quality crème fraiche
50ml extra virgin olive oil
Prep the artichokes by first tearing away the thick outer leaves and then cutting the top off, a few centimetres away from the heart. Trim away any remaining green or purple bits from the stem and leaves using a small curved knife and you should be left with a rose shaped cleaned artichoke. Put the artichokes into cold water with lemon juice in it whilst you are prepping them.
Pre heat the fryer to 140C
Remove the prepped artichokes and dry them face side down on a tea towel for at least 10 mins. Be very careful to ensure that the artichokes are as dry as possible before they go into the oil or it will bubble up. Open up the leaves as much as possible with your hands as it will help the artichokes to ‘bloom’ like a flower when they are fried.
Fry the artichokes for 8 minutes at 140C and then carefully remove and drain on kitchen paper, face down. Turn the fryer up to 190C and allow the artichokes to chill completely.
Blitz the watercress, apple juice and 50ml of rapeseed oil in a blender to make the watercress dressing.
Season the crème fraiche with salt and pepper and beat in the extra virgin olive oil.
Brush the artichokes with a small amount of white wine and season well with salt and pepper. Fry them again until crispy (1-2minutes) being careful to lower the basket slowly.
Remove the artichokes and season again with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon.