This dish is a combination of two recipes from a cookbook I recently discovered entitled “How to be a better cook.” I like how the dishes are simple, classic, and yet innovative. The book is intended to be a guide for those that do not dare enter the kitchen; indeed, the concept of the show that bares the same name is to take a newbie cook (i.e., someone who thinks that cooking an omelet is easy) and teaching them how to make a three-course meal from scratch.
I think the recipes are lovely and they certainly look nice. But I am not sure the book will encourage a novice to take up cooking: here is a lot going on for each of the recipes; the recipes are easy, but they require a lot of time for chopping, assembling, preparing. Now that I think about it, there is a novice cook I can try the formula on. One of Boyfriend’s colleagues is, to put it mildly, not too keen on cooking. I will report back with the results of this experiment.
In the meantime, here are the recipes that include my modifications. You bet that Lorraine Pascale does not use a pressure cooker and mason jars to cook polenta. #modernistcuisine.
Polenta chips wrapped in pancetta
These can be made a day in advance and kept covered in the fridge before finishing. The recipe for cooking the polenta is a modified version of the one found in the Modernist Cuisine at Home cookbook.
1 Tbsp sunflower oil
100 g dry polenta
360 mL water
10 sage leaves (larger ones halved)
20 slices of pancetta (or more if it is the pathetic-bio kind)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Heat a pan with the sunflower oil and add polenta. Toast, stirring constantly until it starts to smell like popcorn, about 5 min.
Divide the toasted polenta evenly between two 0.5 L mason jars. Add half of the water into each jar. Tighten the lids fully, and then unscrew one quarter of a turn.
Place a metal rack or a trivet on the base of the pressure cooker, ad 2.5 cm of water, and place the filled jars on the trivet.
Pressure-cook at gauge pressure of 1 bar (one line on my Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker) for 12 min. Start timing when the full pressure is reached.
Depressurise the cooker, and let the jars cool slightly before opening.
Spoon the cooked polenta into a 20 cm square tin lined with foil, smooth the top, and let cool for about 20 min.
Place the cool polenta on a cutting board and cut into long strips. Put a sage leaf on each and wrap with pancetta. The polenta chips can be put in the fridge at this stage.
Heat a large frying pan on medium heat and fry the polenta chips with some oil.
On the day of serving, these should be made first, as they will spend a good 40 min in the oven.
2 medium eggs
50 g plain flour
100 g breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
a handful of grated Parmesan
leaves from a stalk of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 medium courgettes (as straight as possible)
Heat the oven to 220 C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Beat the eggs in a large shallow bowl with a pinch of salt. Put the flour in another bowl and season with salt and pepper generously. In the third bowl, mix breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and rosemary.
Trim the courgette ends. Halve them lengthways, and make 1.5 cm wide and about 10 cm long batons from each half. Toss the batons in flour, then coat them in egg, and finally in the breadcrumb mixture. Arrange them on the baking tray as you go along.
Spray the courgettes with the oil and put in the oven for 30 to 40 min. When cooked, they should be lightly brown and crisp all over.
Crispy skin salmon
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 salmon fillets with the skin on, skin scored
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve
salt and pepper
Put the olive oil in a pan and heat to a medium heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place in the hot pan skin-side down. Leave for about 4 min; then, flip the salmon and leave it for another 4 minutes.
To assemble the final dish, arrange polenta chips on the plate, put the zucchini fritters on top, and finish with the salmon.