Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Carciofi fritti

Was it the late 80's or the 90's when frying food became taboo?  Whenever it was, it was pretty hard for us Southerners to swallow because some of our best known specialties take a hot oil bath.  But, then, it became a dirty little secret and we had to adapt to "oven fried" this or that, sauteing, baking and broiling.  Don't misunderstand me; we Southerners are damn smart cookies...we already knew how to do all those things.  But frankly, trying to fry chicken in an oven simply isn't fried chicken.  It's crumbed, baked chicken.  Call a spade a spade, right?

It became so forbidden that none of us did it anymore.  I have a "Fry Daddy" that I inherited from my mom's house that has been sitting on a top shelf in my laundry room for about 15 years.  Even, once in a blue moon, if I broke down and fried some shrimp or squash, or whatever, I sure as hell wouldn't admit it!  But here's the rub.  In all my years of reading cookbooks, watching Food Network, talking to chefs, what I couldn't get out of my head was what they all say:  use good oil, use the right temperature, use the right vessel and use the right technique and you can have crispy, golden, non-greasy food.  But still there was the stigma.

Well this year, I said "Enough!"  I'm from South Carolina and if I want to fry something, I'm gonna do it dammit!  So, I asked my sister to get me a fryer for Christmas.  But I was specific: it had to be a good one.  No small potatoes, low performance Fry Daddy, but one with a temp control, basket and lid.  I know it was hard on her, probably as bad as pulling a tooth, but little sister came through and granted my wish!  Thank you Katherine and Cuisinart!

So, today my beautiful God-child Sarah came by.  You should see this kid...smart, polite, pleasant and just gorgeous.  I love me some Sarah!  We started talking about food.  I was kind of quizzing her about her favorites and she brought up having artichokes at her friend Pearl's house.  The idea hit me right there.  I was going to christen my new fryer with artichokes.  I'm delighted to say that my experiment was a resounding success, in my opinion!  I'm going to post what I did, exactly as I did it.  Please feel free to adapt/modify/change as your taste and creativity dictates.

1 can quartered artichoke hearts,  well-drained
2 cups bread flour
3/4 cup "Egg Beaters" (Feggs, as my beloved calls them....Fake+Eggs=Feggs)
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

3/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup Creole mustard
2 tsp chopped capers
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp HOT Hungarian paprika
2 tsp lemon juice

Mix all remoulade ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate to blend flavors.

Heat peanut oil to 375.  Meanwhile, dredge artichokes in flour, then eggs, then crumbs.  Place in fryer basket.  Don't overcrowd!

Lower artichokes into the fryer and cook until golden.  Drain in basket then on paper towels as they cool.  Salt lightly.  Then, get a little dipping bowl of remoulade and hit it!

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