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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Restaurant Replicas - Polenta Chips

One of my favourite things to do is try something new in a restaurant and try to replicate it at home. But this has become a bit of a 'double-edge sword habit' of mine.....

On the one had it's absolutely great if I get it pretty close, then I can enjoy the yum at home!! I've made a couple things on here that I had originally had in a restaurant - take my Chorizo & Sweet Potato Dumplings as one example.

On the other hand, once I realise I CAN make it...and it's simple...and it's cheap, I have a hard time then going about ordering it in a restaurant if it's quite overpriced! This is partly why I rarely ever get salad in a restaurant....I refuse to pay for a simple salad I could make at home and feed 20 people with at the same cost! :)

But as I said replicating restaurant food is a favourite past-time of mine, one which I just can't stop doing - let's call it a 'good, bad habit'!

One restaurant treat that I absolutely love is polenta chips! Any time these beauties are on the menu I'm noming down on them! Most restaurants do a pretty good job at making them. In my opinion you have to be able to taste the parmesan cheese and they have to be crunchy. Too soft or too greasy and the illusion of pure polenta chip bliss is gone!

I've tried polenta chips at Pizza Express, not the best I've had but actually not too bad. The best I've had was in a little cafe on the University of Aberdeen campus. They were truly nom-tastic! (you'll will come to learn I like to invent new word to describe food...)

So here's my version of polenta chips below. I was ordering online from Tesco (other supermarkets exist) at the time and so that was where I had to source my polenta from. For some reason I coudn't get uncooked/unprepared polenta - I could only get this ready made stuff:

It was fine to use this, I only wish I had the raw stuff as well, you'll see why in a minute!

fresh rosemary
rock salt
freshly grated parmesan
extra virgin olive oil

Method to the madness:

1) At this point if you (unlike me) had been able to get your hands on the raw polenta you would need to follow the instructions on the pack which would provide you with instructions for soaking the polenta. At that stage (prior to it drying out) I would also add a bit of freshly grated parmesan to increase the flavour.

2) Once the polenta has dried out on a tray you would need to cut it up into little cubes. 

If like me you bought ready made - you can skip Step (1) and all you have to do is cube it up like so:

3) Then if you had left over raw polenta, once you have cut it up into cubes you should then toss and cover the cubes in raw polenta. You can (like I did) cook the polenta cubes without doing this and they will be relatively crispy, but they will be even MORE crispy and delish if you can do this.

4) Chop up some fresh rosemary and mix it together with some salt to create your own rosemary salt. Alternatively, you can buy this pre-mixed, but fresh is tastier!

5) Heat a tiny bit of oil in a pan - once it's heated up throw the cubes in. You want it to be relatively hot and not use too much oil - otherwise the polenta cubes will just soak it up and become soggy. Once you've tossed the cubes a bit in the oil add in your rosemary salt mixture and toss the cubes in it.

6) You want to cook the cubes on a medium heat until they are crispy and golden (with a slight browning). This doesn't take long.

7) Take your cubes out of the pan and if they are still a bit oily put them on some kitchen paper. 

8) Put the polenta chips on a plate and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan and a little more rosemary salt. 

9) Eat!!! You can eat them on their own as a snack or served on the side. We had them on the side with pork & leek sausages. 



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