My polenta & olive chips is the dish I have created to represent Portugal in my World Cup Special. Soft polenta was literally the first thing I ate, my Mother and Grandmother would cook it on the stove top for hours continually stirring it so it wouldn’t stick to the bottom and burn. Then when it was just right they would put a little in a bowl add some cold milk and feed it to my sister and I. Polenta is one of those ingredients that whenever I think about it I have so many childhood memories that come flooding back, my most vivid memory is leaving for school with my Avo (Grandmother) standing at the stove stirring a massive pot of the stuff, and then arriving home after school to find her in the exact same spot still stirring! She would then pour it into bowls and bowls which covered our 8 seater dinning table and we would eat Polenta for (at least) the following week! The first night was always a bowl of warm Polenta, then for breakfast my Mother would cut them into squares and fry them in olive oil, it was always served with a fried egg and Chorizo. We would eat it with braised meats, or fried fish, or roasted chicken to name just a few but no matter how many times we ate it, we never got bored of it and it was never something I refused to eat.
As I got older and moved out of home I stopped eating it, not because I grew out of it but I was time poor and unable to commit to standing over a pot stirring Polenta all day. And when I had my Children I hated that I couldn’t share the amazing meals I grew up eating with them. Then one day I discovered instant Polenta and my life changed! Sure it’s not as creamy as my Avo’s but its pretty close, and this way I am able to create new dishes to share and most importantly new memories with my family. So here it is my Polenta & Olive Chips, I decided to cut them into squares as a nod to my Mother and Avo, and although the use of olives isn’t exactly traditional the addition of them gives the chips a beautiful saltiness. I like to serve these with my Garlic Aioli and wash them down with an ice cold beer!
1) Brush the olive oil into 2 22x30cm baking trays and set aside for later.
2) In a large stock pot bring vegetable stock and milk to a boil over a medium high heat. Once boiling “rain in” (gradually pour in a thin stream) the Polenta while whisking until the polenta is incorporated into the stock. Reduce the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon or until the mixture has thicken and is rich and creamy. Remove from the heat and stir through the olives and parsley, then allow to completely cool.
3) Divide the Polenta into the two baking trays, and smoothing it out with the back of a spoon. Cover the trays with non-stick baking paper and place in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours (I prefer to keep it in there over night).
4) Using a sharp knife cut your polenta into shapes, I have chosen to cut my polenta into cubes but you can cut yours into what ever shapes you like.
5) Heat your deep frier to 180C (If you don’t have a deep frier, fill a large heavy based saucepan to reach a depth of 6cm. Your oil is ready when you place a bread cube into the oil and it browns in 15 seconds). Carefully lower your chips,in batches, into the hot oil and cook for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oil and repeat this step with the remaining Polenta.
6) Place your chips on some paper towel and sprinkle with good quality sea salt before transferring to a serving dish.
Remember the secret to the perfect dish is to cook with love (and a little va va voom) xx