Make your home page

Indy Film to Fork series takes a trip to Italy

Indy Film Fest’s Film to Fork series-which pairs thought-provoking, food-driven films with corresponding, themed menus-is back for a third year, and they’s upped the ante yet again. This year, guests will enjoy meals from the wildly talented and much celebrated chefs at The Alexander Hotel before viewing the evening’s film in the IMOCA Gallery next door.

The second film of the series, The Trip to Italy, is coming up next week on Thursday, March 26. The funny follow-up to 2010’s The Trip follows two old friends through six incredible meals in six very different regions of Italy.

We’re down in the Market Table so it is a 3 course seated meal. Chef Eli and his team are serving it, coming up and talking about the food, really giving people a taste for what’s going on with the pairing…you are learning culture enjoying culinary adventures…and then we go up stairs to the ballroom for the screening of the movie.”  Jason Roemer, President, Indy Film Fest

Ticketing information for Indy Film Fest’s Film to Fork series:

Tickets are just $50, and include dinner, a glass of wine, and admission to the film, and must be purchased from prior to March 26.

The Indy Film Fest is an annual celebration of films and the people who make them, and is entirely run by volunteers. The Fest’s mission is to create a shared experience around film by championing movies that entertain, challenge and expand perspectives in Indianapolis and beyond.

For further information, visit

Chef Eli Laidlaw from the Alexander Hotel, showcases some Italian dishes in honor of The Trip to Italy.

Chef ‘s menu will include:

• Roasted eggplant and Manchego polenta cake

• Braised chicken thigh and guanciale ragoutRECIPES

Chicken thigh Ragout with roasted eggplant and Manchego polenta cake:

2 Chicken thighs- 1 whole and 1 diced

4 Small carrots, sliced

1 Leek- washed and diced

3 Roma tomatoes- large dice

2 Leaves swiss chard, stem sliced into half moons, leaves cut into strips

1 clove thinly sliced garlic

½ oz fennel seed

Olive oil and s+p as needed

2 oz diced eggplant

2 oz guanciale or pancetta- diced

4 oz red wine

16 oz crushed tomatoes

5 basil leaves- rough chopped

Heat pan on medium, add olive oil, guanciale or pancetta, diced thigh, leeks, carrots, garlic , fennel seed, swiss chard stems and eggplant. Sautee until everything has a slight golden brown color and the thigh and guanciale are starting to render. Add the red wine and stir to deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon scrape the golden brown bits from the pan and let wine reduce by half. Once wine has reduced, add diced and crushed tomatoes, stir and let simmer for 1 hour on medium low heat, there should only be a few bubbles every second rising to the surface. After sauce is done simmering, fold in swiss chard leaves and basil, take off heat and season with salt and pepper. Season whole chicken thigh with salt and pepper, pre heat pan to medium high, sear skin side down in a small amount of oil. Cook skin side down as long as possible until the chicken releases from the pan and is golden brown, flip chicken over and put in oven for 5 minutes until the temperature is 160 degrees.

Roasted eggplant and Manchego polenta cake:

1 qt heavy cream

2 cups water or chicken stock

Half of 1 eggplant- diced

1 clove garlic- thinly sliced

Olive oil

2 oz butter

4 oz Manchego cheese

2 ½ cups polenta

Salt and pepper

Heat pan over medium high heat, add olive oil to coat pan, add eggplant and garlic sautee and stir until golden brown and garlic is not burning. Set aside eggplant. Heat cream in sauce pan until simmering, stir in polenta until smooth and no lumps appear, if too thick add stock. You want this to be in between thick and a loose “wet sand” texture. Once mixed and thick, add cheese and butter and stir to incorporate, this should help smooth the mixture out a little bit. Season with salt and pepper, add more stock if it needs to be smoother. It should almost look as the texture of pizza dough. Stir in eggplant and pour onto parchment paper lined sheet pan or 2 inch pan. Let cool in refrigerator until very firm. Turn out of pan and cut into whatever size shape fits your purpose. Round cookie cutters work great for this. Once cut you can cook in medium hot pan, adding a little bit of butter to help brown and then flip to the other side. Once seared put in oven for 2 minutes until the cake is heated through.

To serve:

Have a large plate or bowl warm, scoop in some of the ragout to cover the bottom of the plate, place polenta cake on top of the ragout and the chicken thigh beside the cake, garnish with on slice of grilled eggplant and more Manchego cheese.