Creamy polenta with Parmesan cheese is baked up into golden brown, crispy fries with warm tomato sauce or ketchup for dipping. My Italian answer to the french fry.
The method is easy but time-consuming because the polenta has to be thoroughly chilled to hold it’s french fry shape. I use 5-minute polenta and cook it for 10 minutes until it’s super thick then spread it flat in a pan and pat it down well to compact it and make it dense. I like to refrigerate it overnight but 2 – 3 hours should work too.
The polenta is cut into strips and sprinkled with salt and pepper before baking. They turn out crispy and chewy with those kind-of-burnt, caramelized ends that real fries have. Only they’re not. Not-potato fries.
And why not? We use the same method to make polenta cakes of all shapes and sizes so why not cut them into french fries. . . but. . . I kind of like not-potato fries.
Creamy polenta with Parmesan cheese is baked up into golden brown, crispy fries.
- Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment and grease lightly.
- Bring the water to a boil and slowly add the polenta while whisking. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook about 10 minutes stirring often, until the polenta is very thick (if it starts to stick badly before the ten minutes is up then it's ready).
- Mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and the parmesan. Scoop into the prepared pan and spread out evenly. Once it's cool enough to touch, but still warm, use your fingers to press and pat it down so that it is compacted. Cover and chill until well set (at least 2 hours, maybe longer) or overnight (is best).
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 medium-sized non-stick baking sheets with olive oil.
- Remove the polenta from the pan using the parchment and carefully flip out onto a cutting board. Cut into 1/2-inch wide fries using a chef's knife. Dunk the knife in hot water after each cut and wipe the blade clean.
- Set them on the baking sheet, close but not touching. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and flip. Cook 15 - 20 minutes longer until golden brown. You can pull out a fry to test.
- Serve with sauce or ketchup for dipping.
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