2ltrs fresh chicken or veg stock; 200g polenta, cornmeal or grits; sprig of thyme; 80g Cheddar, grated; 30g parmesan, grated; 30g butter; pinch of cayenne pepper; pinch of white pepper; sea salt 16 raw king prawns, peeled with tails on, deveined and spli
1. Put the chicken (or veg) stock, polenta, thyme and quarter of a teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer over a very low heat for one hour. Initially it will resemble murky yellow water, but it will come together. Keep whisking the mixture, especially during the last 15 minutes of cooking, to prevent the bottom of the polenta scorching.
2. Once you have a nice thick and gloopy consistency similar to a well-cooked porridge, which pulls away from the sides of the pan and has no bite to it when 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.
3. To make the dirty prawns: 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Check for seasoning and give it a generous squeeze of lemon juice before serving alongside the polenta. THANK goodness I’ve survived the last couple of weeks. I hid behind the front door on Halloween (I hate it) and shielded the dog’s ears from the pops and bangs of fireworks. I’m not one for Bonfire Night either.
I bet you think I’m a proper sourpuss. But I do like outdoor fires – just under my own terms.
A few days ago I went to my pal’s house as she’d promised to light the fire pit, throw on a leg of lamb and pour wine. I also took wine to taste-test for your benefit (my life is all about you).
Our first was a white. It’s eight months since I went to New Zealand and met winemakers including Matt Patterson-Green from Jackson Estate. As the fire crackled, my chum and I poured