Leave it to West Coast guide to the good life Sunset Magazine to throw together a side dish that sounds so delicious, we’ll be ditching potatoes for a while.
Polenta is good luck for me — my very first cookbook was all about polenta — so when I saw this dish on the menu at A’Town Bistro in funky-licious Anacortes, Washington, I was immediately sold. Sure, you have to make the polenta ahead of time, but that just means less prep time on the night you’ll be serving. And don’t try to serve more than four people, or everyone will wish they had more. This is insanely good!
- 2 tablespoons best-quality curry powder or yellow curry paste, plus more to taste
- 2 teaspoons lime juice, plus more to taste
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
Roasted garlic aioli
- 15 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon each fine sea salt and pepper
- 1 1/3 cups mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons finely snipped chives
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups polenta
- 3/4 cup (about 4 ounces) crumbed dry gorgonzola, or other dry blue cheese
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- canola or vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- About 1 cup corn flour
For the curry ketchup
In a bowl, whisk the curry and lime juice into a paste. Add the ketchup and blend thoroughly. Taste for flavor and adjust with curry powder and/or lime juice.
For the garlic aioli
Preheat the oven to 350°. Make a doubled layer of foil into a 6-by-6-inch square. Put the garlic in the center and bring up the sides to form a cup; place on a small rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the cloves with the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Bring the sides all the way up and twist together to make a firm seal. Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast the garlic for 35 minutes. It should be tender and golden but not dark brown.
Remove from the oven and open the top to stop the cooking. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins.
Puree the garlic in a small food processor until smooth. Set aside 1 tablespoon garlic puree for the polenta. In a bowl, whisk the remaining pureed garlic with the mayonnaise until evenly blended. Fold in the chives.
For the polenta fries
In a large saucepan, combine 8 cups water with the reserved garlic puree, salt, pepper, and butter, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the water is just simmering. Whisking all the time, pour the polenta into the water in a thin stream.
When all the polenta has been incorporated and the mixture is smooth, 3 to 5 minutes, switch to a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to very, very low and stir frequently for about 30 minutes, until the polenta is so thick that the spoon will stand upright.
Remove from the heat and stir in half the blue cheese and the cilantro. Scoop the hot polenta into a 10-by-14-inch rimmed baking sheet, and smooth to a 1-inch thickness. Chill overnight in the refrigerator. Keep chilled until just before cutting and frying.
Prepare a deep-fryer or deep, heavy pot one-third full of oil for deep-frying. Heat the oil to 350° on a deep-fry thermometer. Cut the polenta into 3-by-1/2-inch sticks and arrange on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Dredge in corn flour to coat well. Shake off the excess and set on a clean, dry baking sheet until ready to fry.
In batches to avoid crowding the pan, fry the polenta sticks until golden brown, about 4 minutes per batch. Retrieve from the oil with a flat skimmer, and drain briefly on paper towels. Crisscross on plates or a platter and scatter with the remaining blue cheese. Serve with the ketchup and aioli.