If you’ve never tried my chunky polenta chips, l promise you, these are very, very nice. Baked until crisp on the outside but still creamy on the inside, they are as satisfying and comforting as potato chips … just healthier.
What is Polenta
Polenta has roots in the peasant cuisine of Italy where absolutely nothing went to waste. Essentially, it’s made from grinding corn into flour (meal). Polenta has a rich yellow colour and when cooked has a smooth creamy texture.
The traditional way to cook polenta is low and slow on the stove. A process that can take up to 45 minutes of stove top stirring (too long for me). Thankfully, supermarkets now supply instant polenta which only takes minutes to make.
My supermarket stocks several brands of polenta, none of which stipulate that they are quick cooking. My tip is to look at the directions on the back of the packaging which will indicate the cooking time; usually between 5 – 10 minutes. The polenta grain must also be very fine.
Polenta Needs Flavour
Polenta needs a lot of help in the flavour department. I give my polenta chips a boost by using chicken stock (you can substitute with vegetable stock), butter, salt and parmesan cheese. If you want to be more creative, here are a few suggestions on what you can add:
- gorgonzola or any other cheese you like
Oven Grill/Broil, Fry or Bake
Polenta chips will taste wonderful no matter which way you cook them. I’ve tried all three ways and this is what l found.
Oven Grilling/Broiling: will give you a crisp exterior, but is my least preferred option as it tends to dry out the polenta. You will need to watch carefully so the polenta chips don’t burn, and turn them so they grill on all sides.
Frying: is time consuming (3-4 minutes per side), but it will give you a crispier exterior than grilling or baking.
Baking: is my preferred way of cooking polenta chips. You will achieve a crisp exterior, maybe not quite as crisp as frying but a little healthier. You don’t even have to turn the chips over while they cook, the oven will crisp up all sides regardless. You also avoid the boredom of having to stand over a stove.
Now all that’s left is to vacuum thousands of tiny polenta grains from every crevice, nook and cranny in my kitchen, courtesy of a bag which l accidentally dropped 😡
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes (Baking) See instructions for other cooking options.
Servings: 20 pieces
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock/broth (note 1)
- 200 g/7 oz instant polenta (note 2)
- 1 tsp salt (note 3)
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 70 g/2.5 oz grated parmesan
- 30 g/1 oz unsalted butter
- olive oil
- Oil a 28 cm x 18 cm/ 11″ x 7″ pyrex dish or baking tin. Set aside.
- Bring 4 cups of stock/broth to the boil in a medium saucepan. Lower the heat to moderate.
- Add the salt and pepper. Stir.
- Pour in polenta in a slow stream while stirring continuously with a wooden spoon.
- Continue until the polenta becomes thick and difficult to stir (6-7 minutes). Caution: polenta is very hot. Turn down the heat to low when it begins to splatter.
- Remove from the stove. Stir through butter and cheese.
- Pour polenta into dish or baking tray. Use a flat spatula to level the mixture.
- To prevent surface of polenta drying out, cover loosely with a tea towel and refrigerate until cold and firm.
- Turn the dish or baking tray over onto your work surface. Cut polenta widthways into 2.5 cm/ 1″ thick slices. Cut slab in half. You will now have rectangular shapes that measure 8 cm/ 3″ long.
- Baking: Heat oven to 200 C / 420 F. Place polenta onto baking tray lined with baking/parchment paper. Brush or spray with oil on all sides. Position tray on top third of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. They will crisp up on the bottom without needing to turn.
- Shallow Frying: Heat 1.5 cm/ 1/2″ oil over moderate-high heat in a medium frypan. Fry polenta until each side is golden (3-4 minutes per side). Place on paper to absorb excess oil.
- Grilling/Broiling: Heat the oven to 200 C / 420 F. Place polenta onto baking tray lined with baking/parchment paper. Brush or spray with oil on all sides. Position baking tray on top third of the oven. Grill, turning the polenta chips so that they turn golden on all sides (20-25 minutes).
- Serve with tomato sauce or your preferred sauce or dip. The rock salt and thyme leaves shown in photos are only for photographic purposes (just for a pretty picture). Polenta reheats beautifully in the microwave. They just won’t be as crisp.