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Food

Asparagus + creamed polenta with crispy shallots

Creamy, piping hot polenta is my happy place. I serve it more like a porridge vs. a fluffy mound (I don't discriminate), inviting a cooked veg or slow roasted cut of meat to be showcased on top. Cooking it with home-made chicken stock (with an extra layer of chicken fat) makes it mouth-wateringly rich and smooth. Side note, fried shallots are so underrated - they take minutes to crisp up and are punch packed with the most dense potato chip flavor that'll ever hit your taste buds. 

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INGREDIENTS

Serves 2; 40 min

  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed or canola oil for frying
  • 1 cup polenta corn grits (I love Bob's Red Mill)
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably home-made
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c or 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed, ends trimmed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 green onion, washed, trimmed, grated into thin strips using a hand peeler, or thinly sliced with a pairing knife

PREPARATION

  1. Heat your oven to 425.
  2. Place a small pan over medium high head, add in the grapeseed oil. After about 3 minutes, place a piece of shallot into the pan - when it's starting to crisp and bubble - your oil is ready. Working in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the small pan and lower the temperature of the oil, fry the sliced shallot, until they're golden brown. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a medium saucepan. When it's simmering, reduce the heat to medium and add in the polenta corn grits, whisking constantly. Cook until desired consistency, no more than 30 minutes, making sure to stir often so no lumps form and at a medium heat, so the grains don't split. I enjoy mine not too thick, especially when using home-made chicken stock, so I only cooked it for about 15 min. Remove from heat and stir in butter + salt to taste.
  4. While the polenta cooks, cut asparagus into small 2" bites. Spread onto a baking tray, making sure there's enough room for them to brown. No 'gus should be touching! Drizzle the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, toss to evenly coat. Roast for 15 minutes, without touching them, or until ends are nicely browned. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  5. To plate, take a few spoonfuls of polenta and line the bottom of a plate or bowl. Gently place your asparagus ontop, followed by a hearty gathering of crisped shallots. Finish with a few wisps of green onion for brightness. Sprinkle a few flakes of aleppo pepper + serve immediately.

 

Some notes:

To trim your asparagus, snap off the end. It'll naturally snap off where it's meant to. 

You'll have leftover polenta with this dish. I love having it in the mornings as a savory breakfast, plain. Serve it later on in the week with citrus pulled pork or steak fried cauliflower with capers. Or, spread it onto a sheet pan, let set and chill, cut into squares and fry them off to serve as an app with a tangy yogurt and herb spread.