Let me be upfront about this recipe. This is not something you whip up after a busy day when you are just trying to get dinner on the table. These polenta fries are delicious, soft in the middle, crunchy on the outside, and most of all they require a lot of time to get right. I usually make them on the weekend, when I am busy around the house, and I can occasionally keep an eye on the fries in the oven. There is not a lot of hands-on time, just a lot of waiting around for the right texture to come together. So make these as a side for summer BBQ, and your belly will be very happy!
Preparation time: 2 hours + cooling time (around 4 hours)
Makes 40 fries:
7 cups vegetable broth or water
1 1/4 cups polenta (cornmeal) + 1/2 cup extra for rolling
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ketchup, Mayo, chili flakes, Chipotle aioli, Za'atar, or whatever else you like!
Bring a pot with the broth or water to boiling. Whisk in the cornmeal, and crumble in the dried rosemary. Then turn down the heat, and let cook for around 40 minutes until creamy. Whisk every 5 minutes or so to make sure it doesn't get lumpy. It will bubble and "spit" a lot in the first few minutes, so maybe just put a lid on it. Once it thickens, the bubbles die down.
In the meantime, oil a large baking dish, and set to the side.
Once the polenta is thick and creamy, season with a little salt (more will be added later) and pepper, then pour it into the prepared dish, set to the side, and let it cool down. After the initial cooling you can also put it in the fridge to speed up this step.
Once the polenta has set, turn over the dish on to a chopping board, and hopefully the whole big block of polenta will just slide right out.
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F.
Sprinkle half a cup of cornmeal on a plate, and put to the side.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and put to the side.
Now cut the polenta into chunky fries, about one finger thick.
Roll the fries in the cornmeal on the plate, then line them up on the parchment paper. You may need two trays to line up all the fries!
Bake for a total of 40 minutes, flipping them every 10 minutes, so each side has had some time to get really crunchy. This is tedious work! Use two forks to easily flip them. I know you will want to kill me while doing this, but trust me, it is what gives them the right texture.
Once done, sprinkle with more salt, like a lot, polenta really needs salt! Then serve with any of your favorite condiments.
Happy summer days are here!