Monday, September 14, 2009

Hay, hay, hay - Donna does chicken


“Hay Hay it's Donna day” is the first blogging event I stumbled across when I started my culinary ramblings and the whole concept of these random bloggers all over the world all emulating the signature white and clean stylised look of Donna's food really intrigued me.
I'd discovered Donna Hay and her inimitable food styling from her Marie Claire days and when confronted by stacks of white plates and bowls and that exquisite Vendee light back in October 2006 I was inspired to create a homage to Donna and attempt her quintessential appreciation of all that is pale and interesting.
Reading the other entrants of the HHDD blog event I realised that what was missing from my life was the donna hay bi-monthly magazine. My cookbook addiction is only slightly tempered by my obsession for cooking magazines. Over the years I’ve subscribed to some, dabbled with several and tracked down a few more.  My only problem is occasionally whittling down and recycling them when they threaten to overtake my home. 
The donna hay magazine is not a regular on the UK newsstands so I had to try a little harder to procure.  I found a newsagent in Knightsbridge that specialised in foreign magazines and that worked for a while but I wanted a more regular supply.  My local newsagent eventually managed to become my customary provider and has managed to pickup a couple more fans in the local area as his issues are always pounced on. 
I was only thinking recently that now I have amassed a small collection of said magazine I should try another go at the HHDD event.  And when I leapt into the world of tweeting and commenced trawling for mutual foodie tweets, I spotted a familiar twitter-er called HHDday and in the sometimes small world of food blogging learnt that this month’s host is Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness fameChez Us host the event but as Stephanie's interpretation of last month's HHDD challenge, she gets to choose this month's Donna recipe. Stephanie was the fabulous host of the monthly blogging parties but has taken a hiatus from these exertions so it was really great to see her back blogging and back at the head of the table again. 
Stephanie sensibly wasn’t taking any chances with us seizing her theme and twisting it in a non-Donna sty-le so she provided her choice of Donna Hay Parmesan and Polenta Chicken recipe.  I was determined to track down the original recipe only because I was fascinated to see Donna’s presentation.  I combed through my magazine hoard to no avail and even my donna hay chicken cookbook couldn’t help me.  But with a little digging I found another food blogger who’d been taken with the same recipe and had mentioned that she’d espied it in donna hay magazine #31, a couple of months before my collection started, that explains it.

Parmesan and Polenta Chicken
donna hay Magazine, Issue 31
2 cobs corn, husks and silks removed
olive oil for brushing
2 x 200g (7oz) chicken breasts
flour for dusting
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 cup(100g/3 1/2 oz) polenta
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
100g (3 1/2 oz) baby spinach leaves
1/2 basil leaves
grated parmesan cheese, extra to serve
dressing
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
sea salt and cracked black pepper
To make the dressing, place the mustard, lemon juice, garlic, oil, honey, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 220 C (425 F. Brush the corn with oil, place in a baking dish and roast for 25 minutes or until golden. Slice the kernels from the corn and set aside.
Slice the chicken in half horizontally, dust with the flour, dip into the egg and press into the combined parmesan and polenta to coat. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Arrange the chicken, corn, spinach and basil on plates and spoon over the dressing and grated parmesan to serve. Serves 4 

       
Unusually for me I followed the recipe to the letter, my only substitution was the spinach for lamb’s lettuce and pea tops that I already had in the fridge.  I’d never used Parmesan and polenta for a crispy jacket before and it definitely added a pleasing crunch to my 'happy' chicken breasts so will definitely do this again. I’m never shy to use Parmesan (or Grana Padana) and especially after absorbing Easy Tasty Italian from cover-to-cover I was even more convinced that was the way forward. 
Not seeing the original recipe I wasn’t entirely sure how to present the chicken so I thought I’d go for both constructed and slightly deconstructed version.  I suspect the corn kernels scattered over the plate is truer to the recipe and possibly looked the prettiest but the corn flavour was much punchier munching it off the cob – excuse the butter on the chin though!  Style over content, the choice is yours I think.
It’s wonderful to be back in the company of Stephanie again, and has been great fun channelling Donna again. Check back here for how my fellow HHDDers fared.

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