If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between Polenta and Grits, they are like fraternal twins. Polenta is generally made with ground yellow corn, while grits are made with ground white corn. And while the coarseness of the grind differs by preference they are both cornmeal mush. The great thing about both is that they are like an artist’s canvas…to be transformed into so many different tastes at the whim of the artist chef/cook. These Baked Garlic Parmesan Polenta Fries are the perfect example of that analogy.
Back when I used to watch competitive cooking shows, I remember one particular elimination challenge where a cheftestant made a polenta dish. The guest judge was rapturously praising the dish, expounding upon how difficult it was to get the right consistency of polenta where it was creamy in the center and had crispy, golden edges.
I’ll admit, I was a bit flummoxed by that notion. I’m pretty sure I started talking to the television saying, “Nuh uhh….! What about polenta fries?” I’m also pretty sure that moment was when I decided I shouldn’t watch those types of shows any longer if I was going to start talking to the television…but that’s another story altogether.
Being from The South, I make grits. I make grits a lot. Mr. Saucy and I both love grits. I don’t as often make polenta, but one day I was diggin’ in my pantry (reorganizing grains and refilling canisters that were low on supplies) when I came across some coarse-ground yellow cornmeal. I decided I’d whip up some polenta for some “fries.”
For this application, it really is best to make the polenta ahead of time, since you want them to be chilled before cutting them to “fry.” I cooked the polenta, spread it onto a baking sheet, and stuck them in the refrigerator to cool and harden. Later that afternoon, I took them out of the frig and cut them into strips for baking.
This recipe really takes just minutes, and it is such a nice change of pace from the ordinary potato fry. You’ll be all fancy pants when you make this delicious version of polenta.
p.s.: So sorry to be posting Meatless Monday late…I was off having fun with girlfriends.
- 2 cups cream (or milk or half & half)
- 2 cups water
- 1½ cups polenta (coarse ground yellow cornmeal)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (reserving half for garnish)
- ¼ cup melted butter or olive oil
- In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, bring the cream and water just to a boil.
- Add the polenta, salt and garlic powder.
- Stir constantly so the polenta doesn't scorch (you may need to turn the heat down a bit).
- Continue stirring until the polenta thickens (the time will vary depending on the coarseness of the grind of cornmeal you use), generally a few minutes.
- Stir in half of the Parmesan cheese and a tablespoon of the melted butter.
- Remove from heat and spread the polenta, about ½-inch thick, onto a baking sheet or pan using a spatula.
- Chill in a refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Cut into wide-cut "fry" shapes.
- Place the each fry onto another baking sheet and brush with a bit of butter or olive oil and sprinkle with some salt.
- Place the baking sheet into a preheated 450 degree F oven and bake for 20 minutes (flipping the fries once after 10 minutes) or until golden and crispy.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
- Serve hot.