June 01, 2011
A revelation in the side dish arsenal! Not a potato fan? To lazy to clean up the mess from deep-frying? Sure, they take a little advance planning (you need to make the polenta ahead, and let it chill) but they are deliciously different from the usual burger and barbeque accompaniments. The outside turns delicate brown (or striped, if you're patient enough to use a grill or grill pan), and the insides are creamy and delicate. Plus, unlike french fries, you can make extra and re-heat them without feeling sorry for yourself. If you're not keen on the inherent finger-food qualities of the fry/soldier shape, feel free to leave your polenta servings in large squares and grill them up that way.
Parmesan Polenta Fries
1 cup yellow cornmeal (coarse)
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
90 grams freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of sour cream (light is fine)
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh chives
dash of ground white pepper
canola or olive oil spray
Bring water and stock to a boil. Add cornmeal in a steady stream, stirring constantly for ten minutes. (Start with a whisk, then switch to a silicone spatula as it thickens). When you set your whisk aside, it helps to be able to soak it in water right away, for easy clean up later.
After 10 minutes, remove from the heat. Add sour cream and stir until smooth. Add chives and pepper, and stir again. Add the grated parmesan in small handfuls until it is all mixed in, stirring all the while (I use the coarse side of a four-sided grater to grate all that cheese - it's faster and works nicely). Pour immediately into a 9 x 13 pan sprayed lightly with cooking spray, and spread to make an even layer (quickly, before it sets up). Refrigerate until cool and firm (or overnight). Make sure you don't cover it with plastic until it is completely cold, or condensation will wreak havoc on the texture.
Once ready to make the fries, lift the polenta block out of the pan and onto a sheet of waxed paper. Cut the block into thirds, cross-wise, then cut lengthwise into 10 equal slices (so you have a total of 30 fries). Spritz the pieces lightly with cooking spray. In a pre-heated grill pan (or a non-stick skillet), lay the fries down with a little room between each. Grill until they have nice grill marks, then flip to the other side, and repeat until all sides are done.