100 mlmilk1fresh bay leaf125 gmfine yellow polenta, plus extra for dusting20 gm(¼ cup) finely grated parmesanFor deep-frying:vegetable oil10baby artichokes, trimmed, chokes removed, placed in acidulated waterFor dusting:seasoned plain flour¼ cup each(firmly packed) flat-leaf parsley and sage leaves6small rosemary sprigsAioli3garlic cloves, coarsely chopped225 mlolive oil1egg yolk2 tbsplemon juice100 mlextra-virgin olive oilPea dressing90 mlextra-virgin olive oil30 mllemon juice1 tspfinely chopped mint100 gmpodded peas (200gm unpodded)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fry herbs in oil until crisp (30 seconds-1 minute). Drain on absorbent paper and set aside.
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.