This recipe was originally published as part of our Smart Bunch dinner party.
TT Test Kitchen Tip: To save time, use baby artichokes in lieu of larger artichokes. These smaller artichokes grow lower on the stem than larger globe artichokes and don't have a fuzzy choke to remove. As a result, all you need to do before cooking the artichokes is trim back the tough outer leaves, peel the stems and quarter them. Click here to see step by step process of how to trim an artichoke. Frozen and thawed artichokes hearts work nicely, too; begin the recipe at step 4 and use the thawed artichokes in place of fresh, blanched artichokes in step 5.
Crispy Artichokes with Parsley and Pancetta
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: Serves 6
Cook Time: 35 minutes
2 lemons, halved and divided
4 large artichokes
1 tablespoon plus ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ cup plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ pound pancetta cut into ½-inch cubes
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal
⅓ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
Flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Squeeze the juice from three of the lemon halves into the water, add the squeezed halves and set aside.
2. Snap off several layers of the tough green leaves from an artichoke to reveal the inner pale yellow, soft leaves (click here for a step-by-step primer of how to prepare an artichoke). Use a vegetable peeler to shave the stem until it's pale green-white in color, then trim the ends. Halve each artichoke lengthwise and use a grapefruit spoon or teaspoon to scoop out the choke and discard. Slice the halves in half lengthwise and place the artichoke quarters in the lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of the salt. Into a colander or fine-mesh sieve, drain the artichokes and transfer them to the boiling water. Boil just until a paring knife easily pierces the heart, 4 to 8 minutes, depending on the size of the artichoke. Drain and transfer to a kitchen-towel-lined baking sheet and set aside.
4. In a large skillet set over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and the pancetta and cook, stirring often, until the pancetta is golden brown on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the onion to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tips of the onion slices start to brown, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Season with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and transfer the pancetta-onion mixture to a large bowl.
5. In the same skillet set over medium-high heat, add ½ cup of the olive oil and heat for 1 minute. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Add the artichoke quarters to the flour mixture and toss to coat, then place the artichokes in the pan one at a time. Cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side, using tongs to flip them midway through cooking. Once the artichokes are browned on both sides, transfer them to the bowl with the pancetta-onion mixture.
6. To the artichokes, add the parsley leaves, the remaining 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, a few pinches of flaky salt and black pepper. Squeeze the remaining lemon half over the artichokes, toss to combine and transfer to a serving dish. Serve warm or at room temperature.