Carciofi Fritti

A crisp crust, juicy grilled lemon and smoky paprika oil make this dish crazy good.

A crisp crust, juicy grilled lemon and smoky paprika oil.

I gave this dish an Italian name because I work in a nice restaurant. And for whatever reason, people seem to enjoy food more when it’s got a foreign name. This dish is uncomplicated and very satisfying. The paprika oil gives this dish a smoky richness. The grilled lemon, squeezed over the artichokes, provides a sweet/tart aspect.

Grilled lemon is one of my go to accompaniments for fried foods. It’s an interesting variation on the standard lemon wedge, both visually and as far as taste goes. Grilling releases the juice in lemons and gives them a charred/smoky flavor that I find irresistible.

Carciofi Fritti (Fried Artichokes) with Spicy Paprika Oil and Grilled Lemon

Ingredients:

Canned artichoke hearts, drained

Milk for dipping the artichoke hearts (sub out a vegan milk to make this dish vegan)

Oil for deep-frying

Seasoned flour, as needed:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablepoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons smoked paprika

Lemons, washed, cut in half, with visible seeds removed

Chile oil, to taste:
1 cup bland oil (I used a soybean/olive oil blend)
¼ cup smoked paprika
2 tablespoons sambal or hot chile paste

Special equipment:
Blender
Fine mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter
Deep pan for deep-frying or a deep-fryer
Candy thermometer (you don’t really need one, but it’s nice to have)
Grill, griddle pan or heavy pan for the lemons

To make the chile oil:

Toast the paprika in a hot pan until it becomes very fragrant. Please note, it might irritate your nose and throat, so be careful.

Put the paprika, sambal or chile paste and oil into a blender. Blend on high speed for thirty seconds.

Pour the paprika mixture into the strainer. Allow all of the oil to drain.

While the oil is draining, fill your deep pan with oil for frying and heat it up over medium-high heat. The oil needs to reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You can guesstimate this by tossing a pinch of the seasoned flour into the oil. If it sizzles, you’re good to go. Or you can check with the candy thermo…if you’re fancy like that.

Dip the artichokes in the milk and shake to remove excess milk. Drop them in a bowl of seasoned flour and toss to coat. Remove the artichokes from the flour and shake to remove excess flour.

Very carefully lower the artichokes into the hot oil. I really recommend finding something you can use as a fryer basket. If you have a spider, they’re great for carefully putting things in hot oil.

While the artichokes are frying, place the lemons cut side down on the grill or pan. Leave them on until they brown or develop some char.

Fry the artichokes until a crisp, golden brown crust forms. Remove from the oil and drain paper towels.

Plate the artichokes and drizzle with some of the paprika oil. Serve with warm grilled lemon on the side.

Have you ever had grilled lemon before? How was it served to you? What do you think?

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