Serves4 to 6
- Active Time:1 hr
- Start to Finish:1 hr
large artichokes (10 to 12 ounces each)
olive or vegetable oil for deep-frying
a deep-fat thermometer
Fill a large bowl with cold water. Squeeze juice from 2 lemon halves into bowl.
Leave artichoke stems attached. Cut off top inch of 1 artichoke with a serrated knife. Bend back outer leaves until they snap off close to base; remove and discard several more layers of leaves in same manner until you reach pale yellow leaves with pale green tips. Trim dark green fibrous parts from base and side of artichoke with a sharp paring knife, then rub cut surfaces with a lemon half. Trim 1/4 inch from end of stem and trim sides of stem down to pale inner core (don't worry if remaining stem is very thin). Cut off pale green top of artichoke and cut artichoke into 6 wedges. Cut out purple leaves and fuzzy choke. Rub all cut surfaces with lemon half and put in bowl of lemon water. Prepare remaining artichokes in same manner, using remaining lemon half when needed.
Transfer artichokes to paper towels and drain well, then pat dry. Heat 1 inch of oil in a 4-quart deep heavy saucepan over moderate heat until thermometer registers 220ºF. Add artichokes and simmer, occasionally stirring gently, until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Heat oil until thermometer registers 375ºF. Fry artichokes in 4 batches, gently stirring, until leaves are curled, browned, and crisp, 30 to 40 seconds per batch, then drain well on paper towels and season with salt. (Return oil to 375°F between batches.)
Cooks' Note: Artichokes can be simmered (in 220ºF oil) up to 4 hours ahead. Keep, uncovered, at room temperature and fry just before serving.