Wednesday, 12 March 2014

(Almost) guilt-free fries

A little while back to go with that roasted duck I whipped up  a batch of polenta - a rustic side dish originating from Northern Italy. It can be served soft and mash-like or you can let it set and then grill it in pieces of your desired shape and size. This way you'll end up with crispy exterior marked with lovely charred lines and a soft, rich interior. These too coming soon as we're moving towards summer and a lighter life.

And that's how the idea for these fake fries. Gluten-free recipes are something more and more people are asking after and polenta, made of corn meal ticks that box. And that of delicious, too. If humanly possible, these are even better than the real thing as they maintain their crunch a lot longer than the regular chips.

With the duck I spiked the polenta with orange and rosemary but lemon and rosemary is at least as good. And chilli turns that into a brilliant threesome! Garlic, thyme or dried mushrooms would work as well. Feel free to go giddy trying to find your own favourites -   just promise you'll try these as they are that goooooooooood!

Serve as guilt-free (well, almost!) snacks with, say, truffle mayonnaise or a side (for instance with that duck or avocado BLT!). We had ours with mussels stewed in grape sauce, lovely rustic bread and some green salad (these on the blog tomorrow!). And oh la la, for a moment there even I mistook us for some seriously sophisticated and worldly Europeans!

Serves 2-3

Polenta fries:

2,5 dl polenta
generous 5 dl water
the juice of half a lemon
(1 chicken stock cube)
the zest of 1/2 lemon
1 chilli
1 generous 1 tbsp butter
(a couple of dl Parmesan)
2 tbsp (fresh) rosemary
salt, black pepper

olive oil for baking

Cook the polenta according to the instructions on the packet, which is roughly like this: Bring water to boil, dissolve the stock cube (if using), add lemon zest and juice and whisking vigorously the polenta. Keep whisking to guarantee a lump-free consistency. If it starts thickening too much too soon, add more liquid. Then lower the temperature and continue cooking, covered for 20 minutes. Stir the mixture every now and then to make sure the bottom and the sides won't dry. After 20 minutes check whether it's done. If not, continue cooking for another 10 minutes until soft and creamy. Stir in butter (and parmesan if using) and rosemary. Season with salt (unless you're using parmesan) and pepper.

Lightly oil a rectangular dish (mine measured 20 x 27 cm) and place a similar size baking sheet onto the bottom. Spoon the polenta into the dish (be quick as it starts setting quickly!), smooth the top, let cool in room temperature and the set in the fridge for a couple hours. If the top is not perfectly even, don't fret, you can always trim it with a sharp knife as you're cutting the sheet into the fries.

Cut into fries of desired size, spread on baking sheet onto a tray, drizzle with olive oil and bake at 225° for about 20 minutes. Then flip them over and keep baking for another 20 minutes until they are golden and crisp. Sprinkle good salt on top and serve.

Truffle oil elevates the mayonnaise to a whole new league, but if you really want to go all out to the Poshville, throw in a couple of truffle shavings too (should you have some just idly lounging in the cupboard, that is).

Truffle mayonnaise:

2 dl good mayo
1 tbsp truffle oil
pinch of grated truffle
(black pepper)

Combine the ingredients and let the flavours combine as the fries are baking. Bon appétit!




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