Perfect Pub Food At Home

You know you love pub food!  We all need something delicious to soak up our libation of choice.  We also know that there are varying degrees of quality when it comes to pub food. While I have a soft spot for onion rings, dry ribs, and calamari that have gone for a swim in the deep fryer, I much prefer gastropub style fare where the emphasis is as much on the food as it is on the drinks.

I used to go out a lot more than I do now.  Why you ask?   Well, a) I can make better food at home for less; and b) my desire to watch people in their early 20’s get drunk at Donnelly Group pubs has greatly dissipated.  I also love entertaining at home, where I can be the chef, the DJ and the barkeep.  Sounds good right?  Well all this staying in has made me long for the fried foods of Saturdays past, and although I refuse to purchase a fry-baby I still want to make delicious gastropub style food at home.

One of my favourite places in Vancouver is The Cascade Room on Main Street.  They have an amazing cocktail menu (try the Pimm’s), an extensive beer list and really great food.  Not to mention, the room is this cool mix of hipster modern and your English gran’s living room that just warms my heart.  But the #1 reason to go to the Cascade…polenta fries!

Well in the spirit of perfect pub food at home, here’s my recipe for baked polenta fries:

Polenta Fries

1 cup corn meal, 4 cups chicken stock (or water if you want a veg version), 1 rosemary sprig, 1/2 cup grated hard Italian cheese (asiago, parm, romano, whatever you have).

Bring the stock to a boil, whisk in corn meal and cook until thick (8-10 min.).  Remove from heat and stir in cheese and chopped rosemary, season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate until set (at least 1 hour).  Preheat the oven to 450. Cut the polenta into 1/2 by 2 inch strips (or whatever size fries you want).  Rub both sides with olive oil and spread out onto 2 baking sheets (to give them a little space).  Bake for 40-45 min. or until desired crispiness, turning once.

Serve hot out of the oven with curried and or chipotle mayo (just add curry powder or chipotle paprika to your mayonnaise).

Oh, and I promised a report on the jalapeno poppers from Superbowl Sunday!  They were delicious, just don’t rub your eyes after you seed them!  I used the Epicurious recipe as my guide (see previous post) and made a few adjustments.  I stuffed them with a mix of cheddar cheese and softened cream cheese and did the whole double breading thing using corn flake crumbs. It was messy but worth it.  I baked them at 375 for 20 min. on an oiled baking sheet.  They turned out perfectly crisp.  I will be making these again for sure!

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