Today I have a new take Polenta – an old staple with a surprising new twist. Inspired by a recipe in The Guardian by one of my great food hero’s Yottam Ottolinghi. This is the real deal in comfort food – smokey, fishy, spicey (if thats what you want – I do! ), a little cheesey and to finish some fresh herby goodness. It involves infusing milk with aromatics from your pantry and garden, then gently poaching smoked fish in this before straining and adding the polenta to cook, then once thickened returning the flaked smoked fish cheese and herbs to the thickened polenta.
Cooking like this for me allows moments to step away from the busyness of life and focus on simpler things, to take it a little slowly – be patent and let the milk infuse – go outside and find a few simple herbs tucked in the corner or sheltering from the winter under the weeds – this is not about the perfect ingredient list, just taking time to bring it together with what you have to hand. In the end you will have something that can wait until you are ready to enjoy on your own or share with the few or the many.
This recipe can be halved , doubled or tripled to suit – make it an put a slab in the freezer for later or make a great big batch for hearty snacks or dinner for a crowd.
Polenta has always been a store cupboard standby for me, especially when set in a tray and cooled. This recipe fills all these ideas I have previously enjoyed and more – ready to be sliced, crumbled, baked, sauted or crisped for whatever inspires you. It can be made into chips to dip, tasty croutons for a salad, a base for canapés, or a fishy starch beside your choice of vegetables, or buddha/salad bowl.
FISH IN CHIPS
- 500 ml milk – I have used beautiful fresh orgainc whole milk, but use your favourite milk – or milk substitute.
- Slice of onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- Few fresh herbs – ie a sprig of thyme, a sprig of rosemary or a bay leaf. Use what yo have or not.
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Approximately 200 -250 grams smoked fish according to choice and availability.
- 100grams / 1/2 a cup of quick cook-instant polenta.
- Handful of chopped fresh soft herbs such as parsley, chervil, dill, or fennel fronds
- Optional – 1/2 cup swiss/gruyere cheese – or your choice of cheese.
- Optional 1 teaspoon of harissa or your choice of chilli.
Pour your milk into a medium size pot with a lid.
Add the first four ingredients and put onto a low heat for 15 minutes to very gently simmer.
Remove the skin from the fish and place gently in the milk and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Strain the entire contents through a sieve into a jug and return the milk to the pot.
Over a low heat slowly pour the polenta into the milk and simmer to thicken for a couple of minutes.
Once it has thickened add your cheese, harrissa, herbs and smoked fish and stir through to combine.
Press this out onto a baking sheet or tray, preferably about 2 cm thick for easy to hold ‘chips’.
Allow to chill thoroughly before shaping/cutting into preferred shapes
Baking at approximately 180-200’c in a preheated oven until golden, turning half way through cooking to brown on both sides.
I like to serve these with a tangy sauce to cut through the richness of the chips, and inspired by a recent family occasion I thank cousin in law Margaret for the idea of broccoli with fish and chips, translated here to fish in chips.
These chips can also fancy themselves up and be served as a generous canape with the sauce on top, or let everyone dip in and help themselves.