121BC: Crisp polenta, baby artichoke, peas and aioli

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 6 people

  • 100 ml milk
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 125 gm fine yellow polenta, plus extra for dusting
  • 20 gm (¼ cup) finely grated parmesan
  • For deep-frying: vegetable oil
  • 10 baby artichokes, trimmed, chokes removed, placed in acidulated water
  • For dusting: seasoned plain flour
  • ¼ cup each (firmly packed) flat-leaf parsley and sage leaves
  • 6 small rosemary sprigs
  •  
  • Aioli
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 225 ml olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  •  
  • Pea dressing
  • 90 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 30 ml lemon juice
  • 1 tsp finely chopped mint
  • 100 gm podded peas (200gm unpodded)
01   Bring milk, bay leaf and 750ml water to the simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add polenta in a steady stream, whisking continuously, bring to the simmer, reduce heat to low, cover and stir occasionally until polenta is thick (20-25 minutes). Add parmesan, season to taste and pour into a 3cm-deep, 12cm x 8cm tray lined with plastic wrap. Smooth top with a wet palette knife, refrigerate until firm (3-4 hours). Turn onto a board, cut into 4cm x 2.5cm pieces and refrigerate until required.
02   Meanwhile, for aioli, preheat oven to 180C. Combine garlic in a small ovenproof frying pan with 125ml olive oil and roast until garlic is tender (15-20 minutes). Set aside to cool, remove garlic from oil (reserve oil for another use), then process in a small food processor with yolk and half the lemon juice until combined. With motor running, add remaining olive oil and extra-virgin olive oil in a thin steady stream until thick. Add remaining lemon juice, season to taste, thin with a little warm water if necessary, and set aside.
03   For pea dressing, whisk oil, juice and mint until combined, season to taste and set aside. Blanch peas until bright green (1-2 minutes; see cook’s notes p218), drain, toss in dressing, season to taste and keep warm.
04   Reduce oven to 100C. Heat vegetable oil in a deep frying pan over high heat, dust polenta pieces in polenta, shake off excess, then deep-fry, turning occasionally, until golden (3-4 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit). Transfer to an oven tray and keep warm in oven.
05   Dust artichokes in flour then deep-fry, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp (2-3 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit). Transfer to a tray lined with absorbent paper and season to taste.
06   Fry herbs in oil until crisp (30 seconds-1 minute). Drain on absorbent paper and set aside.
07   Serve polenta scattered with peas, artichokes and herbs, with aioli.
Note You’ll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.

This recipe is from the September 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Recipe:

ANDREW CIBEJ, 121BC, SYDNEY

Photography:

WILLIAM MEPPEM

Styling:

LYNSEY FRYERS-HEDRICK AND LISA FEATHERBY

Drinking Suggestion:

2008 VITICOLTORI DE CONCILIIS ANTECE FIANO, CAMPANIA, ITALY.

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