Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson molds traditional Italian frico (cheese crisps) into cups, then fills the salty, crunchy bowls with creamy, warm polenta and nutty brown butter. The frico cups soften as the polenta sits in them, so serve right away, with a fork and knife.
Slideshow: Cheese Recipes
Preheat the oven to 350° and invert 4 small bowls on a work surface. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Sprinkle four 1/4-cup mounds of the aged Montasio cheese about 5 inches apart on the mat and spread into 4-inch rounds. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until golden and lacy. Let the frico cool for 1 minute and then, using a spatula, lay the warm frico over the bowls to cool and crisp. Transfer the cooled frico cups to a rack. Repeat with the remaining aged cheese to make a total of 8 frico cups.
In a large saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt. Whisk in the polenta in a slow, steady stream. Cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until the polenta is thick and tender, about 30 minutes. Whisk in the young Montasio cheese and 2 tablespoons of the butter and season with salt and pepper; keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat, swirling the pan, until the milk solids are golden and the butter smells nutty, about 4 minutes.
Transfer the frico cups to plates and fill with the polenta. Drizzle the brown butter on top and garnish with minced chives and shredded ricotta salata. Serve right away.
The frico cups can be made up to 2 hours ahead and stored in a cool, dry place.
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