Polenta Fritters

Fritelle di Polenta

Ingredients

Fritters

  • 350 g/12 oz polenta flour
  • 1 litre/ pt milk, plus 1 ladle
  • 300 g/10 oz Fontina cheese
  • 24 slices Parma ham, cut in half
  • 1 beaten egg
  • fresh breadcrumbs made from day-old bread or Japanese breadcrumbs
  • olive oil (sufficient for deep-frying)

Sauce

  • kg/ lb plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 100 g/ oz finely chopped Parma ham (use scraps)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of sugar

Method

To make the sauce

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion, the scraps of Parma ham, thyme and bay leaf. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar.

Leave to cook for half an hour, stirring from time to time. Pass the mixture through a sieve and check seasoning.

To make the polenta

Bring the milk to the boil with 8 g/¼ oz of salt, keeping 1 ladleful aside.

Add the polenta flour to the milk a little at a time, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon in a clockwise movement. When the polenta flour starts to thicken add the rest of the milk. Stir the polenta for at least 45 minutes. Cooking polenta for a long time makes it more digestible and eliminates the rather bitter taste of the polenta flour.

When the polenta starts coming away from the sides of the pan, it is nearly ready, but continue stirring until it has a very thick consistency.

Tip the polenta onto a marble pastry slab and with a palette knife dipped into hot water, smooth out the polenta to a thickness of approximately 1 cm/½ in. A rolling pin can be used instead if preferred.

Cut the polenta into 8 cm/3 in circles with a pastry cutter. To assemble the fritters, keep rolling out the off-cuts until all the polenta is used up. Place a slice of Fontina cheese on half of the circles, then top with a piece of Parma ham. Place the other polenta circles on top and gently press them down.

Dip the polenta in the beaten egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Fry the polenta fritters in olive oil, then drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Serve hot with the tomato sauce.

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