Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Crunchy olive and rosemary polenta fingers with aioli

Polenta has eluded my cooking repertoire for some time now. Just the word sounded foreign and difficult (without the knowledge of how easy it is) and it was never the first thing I turned to as a partner for say, lamb shanks or another comforting meaty dish. Let me say, polenta is really easy to prepare and pairs with many dishes. For this recipe however, the polenta is the star of the show.

Once again Donna Hay's simple styling and photography got to me. I was flipping through her book Seasons and came across these crunchy little beauties. I was in the midst of planning a big elaborate stay-at-home romantic dinner for two, when Mr B announces that instead he's off to the footy.

'Is that ok?', he asks, obviously expecting me to be upset.

'Yeah, just fine.....', I trail off, thinking of the glorious time alone on the couch I would have with a bowl of these with the aioli and maybe a cheesy romantic comedy.

I added a teensy bit of finely chopped rosemary to the mixture before cooling, as when I tasted the olive and polenta mix hot, I thought it was just a wee bit bland for my taste. I also added a large pinch of sea salt. All in all, they were ok. Just ok. I think they needed some cheese as I still found them a little bland once cooked. They went well with the aioli however! (That said - I haven't met many 'fingers' or 'chips' that don't get on well with aioli!).

Crunchy Olive Polenta Fingers with Aioli
(Adapted from Donna Hay's 'Season' book - p244)

Polenta Fingers
3 cups chicken stock (I used Moredough)
50g butter
1 cup instant polenta
1/3 cup chopped Kalamata olives
2/3 cup instant polenta, extra for dusting
1/3 cup rosemary leaves
sea salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Place the stock and butter in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and gradually add the polenta. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until thickened. 


Remove from the heat and stir in the olives. 

As you can I added a small amount of finely chopped rosemary. Here is where I would add some cheese next time also!

Spoon the mixture into a well greased 1.5L capacity ceramic dish (28cm x 16cm - or thereabouts), and allow to cool completely. 

 Turn the polenta out onto a flat surface, lightly dusted with the extra polenta, and cut into pieces.

Place the polenta fingers and rosemary (I forgot the rosemary here!!!) onto a lightly greased baking tray and bake for 25 minutes or until crunchy. I was in a bit of a hurry for some reason and got them out a little bit early. They were crunchy but next time I'd do them for 30 minutes or more I think. 

Sprinkle with sea salt and serve with the aioli.

4 egg yolks
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups olive oil

Place the egg yolks, vinegar, garlic and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and process until combined.

Gradually pour in the oil in a steady stream (I did mine in batches in this smaller 'whiz' - couldn't be bothered getting my big processor out! Lazy much?) while the motor is running and process until the mayonaise is thick and smooth.

Enjoy lovelies!


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