I’ve been going polenta crazy recently. I’m actually not a fan of ‘wet’ polenta or even slices of polenta as the Italians do, instead I love the way you can use this gorgeous golden crumb in baking and cooking for a range of different uses. It started with the orange and lemon polenta cake (see post further down), which I can’t stop raving about. Then when making fishcakes a few weeks back I used poltena as a coating instead of breadcrumbs, which worked a treat.
This got me thinking about using polenta more as a crust. It makes a fantastic super-crisp coating for anything you would usually breadcrumb, without having to wait for bread to go stale then blending it.
These little crispy chicken fingers almost look like KFC bites – they are not I can assure you. My plan was to make a suped-up version of chicken and chips and I think that is what I created.
For the chicken:
Slice two chicken breasts into strips. Dip in seasoned flour, then into beaten egg, then into your polenta (I added some chopped chives and parsley to the polenta as well). Fry in a pan with olive oil on a medium heat until crisp on the outside and cooked throughout, this shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes.
For the smoky sweet potato wedges:
Two medium sweet potatoes would be more than enough for two, we used one large.
Slice into wedge shapes and place onto a baking tray with some olive oil, salt, pepper, about half a teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika (I love La Chianata) and a few shakes of mild chilli power (or hot, obviously if you so wish). Mix with you hands to coat and bake, 200 degrees for about 30 minutes, turning once.
Roasted garlic mayonnaise:
For a small portion, just roast two cloves of garlic in a small dish with a bit of olive oil for 10 minutes in a hot oven, cool and pop out of their skins. Place the garlic in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of Malden sea salt, or similar. Grind to a paste and add 4-6 tablespoons of shop bought mayo, depending on how garlicy you want it. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice, pepper and some chopped chives and stir. Decant into a small dish for dipping.
You’ll never buy coleslaw again after making this simple recipe. I actually posted this recipe in May 2009 and called it purple coleslaw because I used red cabbage (which is actually purple) that stained the mayonnaise. This time round I used white and I must say the taste is marginally better with white cabbage – either is fine. The basic mix below is easily enough for four, but if there are two of you I would, and did, make up the full batch and keep it in the fridge to pick at for the next couple of days.
½ a small head of cabbage, finely sliced.
½ medium red onion, finely sliced.
1 large carrot, grated
½ an apple, grated
2 tsp plain mayonnaise
2 tsp fat-free Greek yoghurt
About a tsp of lemon juice, just a squirt or two
Salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients together and ideally leave in the fridge for an hour before serving.
Serve all the component parts of the meal in big bowls on the table for people to pick at with napkins, plus barbecue sauce and tomato ketchup! A real feast. (I’m planning on making some polenta cookies soon….someone stop me!)