tasted, mix in the cheeses, butter and peppers. The polenta will lighten in colour and become lovely and shiny. Season with salt to taste and keep hot until ready to serve.
Place the prawns in a bowl with enough olive oil to coat them, add the crushed garlic and allow to marinate while you get everything else ready. This dish cooks fast so have everything prepped and organised before cooking.
Heat a frying pan over a medium heat with a slick of oil and fry the bacon until it is starting to crisp and the fat has rendered. Remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
In the same pan, melt the butter in the remaining bacon fat. Turn up the heat to high and add the prawns. You want to cook these hard and fast. When they begin to turn opaque, return the bacon to the pan along with the spring onions, salt, pepper and cayenne.
Check for seasoning and give it a generous squeeze of lemon juice before serving alongside the polenta. IZZI ERSKINE is not into fast recipes, or ‘easy’ ones, for that matter. Don’t expect corner-cutting tricks and 10-minute meals with this new recipe collection.
In fact, she’s of the mind that, if you’re going to eat a crab, you ought to know how to buy one fresh, crack it open properly, and unhook the creamy flesh yourself. It’s this style of cooking – investing time, energy, care, attention – that is “how I genuinely get my thrills”, explains the 39-year-old chef and TV presenter.
So, if you’re always in a hurry, the London-based food writer’s new cookbook, Slow, might not be on your ‘must-read’ list – although it ought to be.
Gizzi’s food is “techniquebased and ingredients-led”, meaning Slow is laden with dishes that require a little more effort than hungrily snatching at the nearest available supper.
“What I really love to do is sit around a crock pot or a lovely roast – a dish that’s been in the oven for a really long time,” she explains. “Everyone sits together, shoulder-to-shoulder, with glasses of wine, helping each other serve.”
Within the book, you’ll find a sticky oxtail stew and salt-baked sea bass, Polish golabki (stuffed cabbage leaves), pastries and cloud-like lemon puddings, as well as hand-pulled noodles and a rich lamb hotpot.
It’s structured around process, the aim always being to cook meat so luxuriantly that it falls from the bone with barely a nudge.
“Yes, it might take you an afternoon to learn how to make fresh pasta or fresh noodles, or to make a proper stock, but what you get out of that is something that tastes so much better and is so much better for you,” says an unapologetic Gizzi.
Slowing things down, she notes, is a way to better become “at one” with your ingredients, their heritage, their properties and culinary possibilities.
Essentially, she’s not going to dumb-down cooking for you, but that doesn’t mean her food is out of reach: “I want people to be challenged. Often, we’re told we’re not capable when we are, we are all capable to do anything we want.”
Gizzi is interested in the slow growing of foods, too. Not interfering in terms of antibiotics being given to enhance animals, or pesticides being applied to crops, as well as the cooking of them – provenance and quality of ingredients, she says, is crucial.
“I want people to understand that to make the best food, you have to have the best ingredients,” she notes.
But Slow isn’t designed to be “worthy” or to make you feel bad.
“I’m very, very aware of the implications of money on (better quality) food,” Gizzi admits, “but also, if we want to make a difference