Attending tastings in the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen is always a fun — and delicious — experience, but the cooks outdid themselves while developing recipes for our Bringing Home Rome theme. One stand-out dish we tried was Roman Fried Artichokes — trimmed whole artichokes that are fried twice and smashed to look like golden flowers.
Some of us even declared they were the best dish we’ve ever tasted from the kitchen (which, given the delicious daily offerings, is saying something). I chatted with Test Kitchen cook Sandra Wu, who had some tips for making this antipasto.
“The artichokes were one of the dishes Williams-Sonoma buyers tasted when they visited Rome, and they were really impressed by it,” says Wu. “It’s pretty simple and rustic, and the preparation is easy.”
To make the dish, trimmed artichokes are placed in acidulated water and then fried twice — the first time at a lower temperature so they cook through, and the second time at a higher temperature to achieve a crispy, browned exterior. Immediately after the second frying, you gently smash the artichokes between two metal pot lids to flatten them — no special equipment required.
“We gave the option of serving the artichokes with lemon wedges and aioli,” says Wu. “They just take a sprinkle of salt and pepper on top — simple!”
Here are Wu’s tips for perfectly fried artichokes:
- In a pinch, start early. You can leave the artichokes sitting in acidulated water for a couple of hours until you’re ready to fry them.
- Work in batches. Don’t crowd your deep fryer with all of the artichokes at once or the oil won’t stay hot enough for frying.
- Get the flavor without the price tag. This recipe uses half olive oil and half canola oil, so you get the fruity olive flavor without spending too much.
“People were really excited by these!” says Wu. “Everyone loves something fried, but they still had a nice fresh artichoke flavor — tender but crispy on the outside.”
Roman Fried Artichokes
Olive oil for frying
Canola oil for frying
2 lemons, halved
12 globe artichokes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Lemon wedges for serving
Aioli for serving
Fill a deep fryer to the fill line with a half-and-half combination of olive oil and canola oil. Preheat the fryer to 325ºF according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet.
Squeeze the juice from the lemon halves into a large bowl of cold water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, remove the tough outer leaves to expose the pale yellow core. Peel the stem end, keeping about 1 inch of the stem intact. Trim 2 inches off the top of the artichoke. Using a spoon, scoop out the furry choke in the center. Add the artichoke to the lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
Working in batches, drain the artichokes and pat dry with paper towels. Generously season with salt and pepper. Place the artichokes in the hot oil and fry, rotating them occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer the artichokes, stems up, to the rack-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
Preheat an oven to 200ºF. Set a second wire rack on a separate baking sheet and place in the oven.
Increase the fryer temperature to 375ºF. Working in batches, fry the artichokes again, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Return them to the rack-lined baking sheet.
Using 2 metal pot lids with handles, gently smash the artichokes: Hold 1 lid, with the interior facing up, in 1 hand. Place 1 artichoke, stem up, in the center. Using your other hand, gently press the artichoke downward with the second lid to create a pressed flower effect. Season the artichoke with salt and pepper and place on the rack-lined baking sheet in the oven. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
To serve, place the artichokes on a large platter and garnish with the parsley. Serve with lemon wedges and aioli. Serves 6.
About the author: Olivia Terenzio grew up in Mississippi, where she cultivated a love of sweet potatoes, crawfish and cloth napkins at a young age. A passion for sharing food with friends and family led her into the kitchen and later to culinary school, where she learned how to roast a chicken and decorate a cake like a pro. As a Williams-Sonoma blog editor, she’s now lucky enough to be talking, writing and thinking about food all day.