What an unproductive week in the kitchen! I’ve been so busy at work that all I’ve had time to do is heat up a bit of Woolies’ chicken soup. I made The River Café’s ribollita over the weekend, though, which had me swooning all over again. On Sunday I attempted Jamie Oliver’s roasted chicken on a potato rosti (from Jamie’s Kitchen), which was a disaster. The chicken was underdone and the rosti was just mush – not the delicately golden, crunchy delight that the image next to the recipe suggested I should end up with. I think the problem lies with my oven (not me, naturally). It is unpredictable at the best of times – I fact, it’s predictably unpredictable. It either singes food in a char-grilled-but-raw-on-the-inside fashion, or the poor dish is so dried out that it needs to be eaten with a chisel – and a healthy sense of humour. And possibly brain damage. (Once again, I must state that the fault lies with my oven, not my cooking).
These Parmesan-polenta fritters, on the other hand, are pretty difficult to screw up. Rich, crunchy parmesan crust with a creamy polenta centre – I enjoyed them with a smashed-pea spread, which I’ve also made on occasion with chopped anchovies added. And, of course, everything tastes better with a glass of bubbly...
Deryck van Steenderen.
Parmesan polenta fritters with smashed peas
400g fresh petit pois
1 handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 cups water
1 cup polenta
flour, for dusting
2 eggs, beaten
50g grated Parmesan
For the polenta fritters: Bring the water to the boil in a medium saucepan, and gradually whisk in the polenta. Cook for 40 min with the lid on, stirring occasionally. Pour polenta into an oiled baking tray, and spread until about 1cm thick. Allow to cool, then cut polenta into squares. Coat each piece in flour, then egg, and finally the Parmesan. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry the polenta for about three minutes on each side, or until golden and crisp.
For the mashed peas: Place the peas, basil, garlic and a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar, and smash until you have a rough puree (or you can pulse in a food processor). Stir in the lemon juice, the pecorino, and then enough olive oil to loosen the mixture a little.
September 7th and 8th at Sunday Suppers
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