Created by DEBBIE SCHEMBRI,
Private Chef, founder of Barefoot & Curious, bespoke catering service,
for FOOD STORIES MT.
Debbie says, “these are a great party nibble that can be prepared ahead of time and cooked when needed. Lighter than arancini, the polenta cooks and sets quickly, allowing for less prep time overall. Paired with these gorgeous mediterranean ingredients, they are a real treat with a glass of prosecco!”
Ingredients, for 30 to 40 balls
200g good quality, quick-cook polenta
400ml chicken stock
300g Taleggio cheese
300g Pecorino Il Timbrato di Busti [young pecorino]
3 Brindisa Hot Guindilla Peppers, finely chopped [or more if you prefer more heat]
6 Tblsp Seggiano Wild Fennel Tomato Pesto
6 Tblsp Nonno Andrea Crema al Radicchio Rosso di Treviso e Olive Taggiasche
5 Ortiz Anchovy Fillets in Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, finely chopped
20 large Nasturtium leaves
Zest of half a lemon
150g Taralli al Finocchio
Salt, as needed
Vegetable Oil, for frying
Olive oil, as needed
Debbie says, “I believe recipes are relative and never fixed, so, if there is something you don’t like, leave out. Like more of one thing? Go for it… Let’s get this show on the road!”
Pour the chicken stock and the milk into a pot, season with a generous pinch of salt and bring to the boil. When boiling, slowly tip in the polenta and immediately begin to whisk vigorously to avoid clumping.
Continue whisking for 5 minutes or until the polenta thickens to a mashed potato consistency. Remove from heat, transfer to a baking sheet and spread out evenly to cool for ten minutes or until comfortable to the touch.
As the polenta is cooling, roughly slice the nasturtium leaves and fry gently in a small swirl of olive oil. After 2 minutes add the chopped garlic, cook for 30 seconds and remove from heat to continue cooking in the hot pan for another minute. Move to a small bowl.
Once cool, divide the polenta between 3 bowls. To one add the wild fennel tomato pesto, to the second add the radicchio and olive pesto, to the third the guindilla peppers, lemon zest and cooked nasturtium leaves.
Mix the contents of each bowl thoroughly, either with a spool, or with clean hands, until the mixture is homogenous and there are no streaks.
Grate the pecorino and the taleggio cheeses separately, on the coarse side or a box grater.
Prepare 3 baking trays and line them with baking paper. Have a bowl of water close to hand.
Start with the fennel tomato batch of polenta and take a ping-pong-sized piece. You may need to dip your fingers in a little water to avoid sticking. Flatten the ball onto your left hand and in the centre place a piece of anchovy and a large pinch of the grated pecorino. Form the polenta around the filling and seal into a ball. Roll gently to smooth out. Place onto the tray and repeat with the remaining batch.
Next move onto the radicchio and olive mix. Repeat the above process but fill with the taleggio cheese instead. Finish all batch and set aside.
For the third batch, repeat the process, filling with a combination of the taleggio and the pecorino cheeses.
In a food processor blitz the taralli to a fine crumb and place them in a bowl. Place the flour and a pinch of salt into another bowl. Whisk the eggs and season with salt in another bowl. Start a paneeing process by picking up one of the balls, coating it in flour, next in the egg mix and finally in the taralli crumbs. Repeat for all the remaining balls.
Heat the oil in the pan, toss in a piece of bread. When it turns golden brown in 30 seconds the oil is ready to use. Fry the polenta balls in batches of around 6, making sure not to crowd the pot. Remove once a deep golden brown and drain on kitchen paper. Season the outside with a light sprinkle of salt before serving.