Easy Creamy Polenta turned baked Polenta “fries” with the leftovers – adaptable for whatever the occasion and dietary requirements – can be made Vegetarian, Vegan or Flexi.
By popular demand after posting this photo of a recent lunch to my Instagram Story. Behold two recipes in one, or one recipe for two meals should I say?
Whatever your dietary preferences, always choose the highest quality ingredients because you deserve it. To quote an old friend, “Money spent on good food is never money wasted.”
By no means an expert, keep reading to get my tips and take on it or Jump to Easy Polenta – Creamy Polenta – Baked Polenta Chips Recipe.
What is creamy polenta?
Polenta purists would chase me right out of town for even considering the “instant” Polenta version I’m sure. Don’t worry, if you are opting for Organic as standard then it isn’t genetically modified Frankenfood. Instant or quick cook Polenta is simply Italian cornmeal that is more finely ground and therefore cooks very quickly (approx. 5 mins) compared to the long cook (approx. 40 mins) of the coarse version.
I tend not to try and make life more complicated than it needs to be. At least not when it comes to cooking Polenta dishes. Given the state of our food industries and the world at large, I cook to control the ingredients and quality of food that I eat, not to spend endless hours in the kitchen. Plus Polenta in all of its varieties really isn’t my fave thing to eat. I suppose a Polenta purist might argue that is because I opt for the easy quick-cook version. Personally, I would live off a combination of potato dishes and pizza if there were no repercussions but nutritional variety is key to health and maybe even the spice of life, as they say.
If you really enjoy geeking out on these kinds of things, I was impressed and amused by the Polenta 101 on Food 52 blog, even if they discuss only the sacred use of long cook versions for Creamy Polenta dishes. Go one step further and explore all things Creamy Polenta with Masterclass.com.
What do you do with Creamy Polenta?
Personally, I use Creamy Polenta in dishes much the way mashed potatoes would be used (with sauteed veg or saucy gratins or casseroles or why not as a side to a meat dish / Vegan substitutes).
What do you do with Baked Polenta Chips / Fries?
Obviously, once they are in the form of chips or “fries” then I use them as a sub for “fries” or chips. 😀
Why is this Easy Polenta Recipe in two parts?
Simply because I cook almost everything from scratch for two people and have other things to do than actually prepare each meal freshly. In other words, I am an avid fan of batch cooking and over-quantifying for leftovers that can be used in another meal to reduce the time spent in the kitchen.
If you are cooking for more than two people, you may need to play around with the quantities, or skip the two parts to make only one – the quantities in the entire recipe below without left-overs are for 6 people.
What’s with all the different options in the ingredients?
There are many ways to go about making Creamy Polenta, the idea of this Easy Polenta recipe is that you get the bare bones of it.
Whilst sticking to the ratio of grains to liquid, I highly encourage all to play around with things, both in life and in this recipe.
Personally, I dislike making it with milk because I find that it is too creamy, and I haven’t tried broth because I’m not currently making bone broth or veggie stock, nor did I fancy the extra albeit minimal effort of making instant broth. Although I imagine using a high-quality stock or broth would probably be miles better and less bland.
Having fun in the kitchen (and life in general), enjoying what you consume, knowing that it is nourishing you deeply and developing dishes to suit your taste buds and lifestyle is essential good living techniques.
Branch out and make it your own, you got this.
One thing is sure, do not scrimp on the seasonings whatsoever if you don’t love bland food.
Creamy Polenta sounds horrible though
Obviously, if you don’t like the idea of Creamy Polenta then skip the eating in the “first use” part and go straight to the layering and setting part so that you can move on to the “second use” the crispy, chippy goodness of the baked Polenta “Fries” part.
If you don’t currently have an oven at all (hi Vera) or don’t fancy turning the oven on (hi scorching summers) then there are other approaches that I envisage, even if I haven’t personally tried, yet.
By all means, grilling or pan-frying is totally acceptable, if not interdit aka frowned upon by my mother. LOL (hi mum).
I don’t have an air-fryer but imagine it could also work in there.
Although I have a hard time imagining success with deep-frying – I think it would just disintegrate? Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t deep fry anything.
Let me know in the comments the variety of ways you have tried cooking Polenta “fries” and how they worked out, what are your favourites etc.
Without further ado, here is thine recipe:
Easy Polenta – Creamy Polenta – Baked Polenta Chips / Fries
Easy Polenta Ingredients
All ingredients are Organic as standard, small-scale production and locally sourced where possible.
250g of quick-cooking Polenta (I know, sacrilege!)
1 L of liquid (water, stock, milk, half and half of the aforementioned etc.)
1 tbsp of fat (butter, oil etc.)
Unbleached sea salt (NOT processed table salt with the added anti-caking agent) and freshly ground pepper (because pepper powder is not it) to taste
An adequate quantity of any fresh or dried seasonings that take your fancy (my faves are all round “herbes de Provence” aka thyme, rosemary, oregano etc.)
Extra extra – add generous amounts of cheese (I stick to the classic parmesan/ grana padano AND grated gruyere because that is what I often have on hand) OR if your preference dictates, use Vegan substitutes / Nutritional Yeast to get that umami taste and gooeyness in the “first use” part.
1 – Easy Creamy Polenta
- With all ingredients measured and ready to go, prepare a whisk and spatula. Also, prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper for the later spreading and setting. Everything moves kinda fast so having all to-hand reduces the stress. If you are eating this “first use” part as Creamy Polenta prepare the plates and all other parts of the dish you will serve alongside, this step for Creamy Polenta needs to be the last thing you do before serving the whole thing.
- Boil the liquid, then on a medium heat add the fat and seasonings, once mixed, steadily pour the polenta as you whisk it briskly to avoid lumps but not so much it splashes everywhere.
- Turn the heat down as the mixture thickens and switch the whisk for the spatula, keep stirring for a few minutes until the consistency is like mashed potatoes.
- Turn the heat off and add in the extra extras if using and keep stirring until fully incorporated.
- Serve immediately but just before eating the “first use” Creamy Polenta dish take the remainder of the mixture and quickly spread it onto the prepared baking sheet in as uniform a layer as possible, the thickness will dictate the thickness of the Polenta Chips / Fries in the “second use” then go eat!
Enjoy your “first use” Polenta dish and put the Polenta layered baking sheet, once cooled, into the fridge to set. I generally leave the Creamy Polenta to set overnight, or at least a few hours.
2 – Baked Polenta Chips / Fries
With the pre-prepared or leftover Creamy Polenta that has set for at least a few hours, we now make our “second use” to turn the Creamy Polenta into baked Polenta Fries or Chips:
- Preheat the oven to roasting temperature (I have no idea really because my current oven is playing up and I have to cook everything at 250° C) – my estimate is that in a regular, functioning oven that would be around 190°C to 200°C depending on how hot yours runs.
- Nice and easy – cut the layered and set Polenta sheet into chip shapes (or any shapes to your liking now that I think of it, why not use fun cookie-cutter shapes?)
- Place onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven approx. 25/30 minutes – turning once or twice during cooking – remove once golden and crispy, serve immediately and enjoy.
Please do feel free to share any modifications and tips you’ve found useful/love in the comments below.
Tag me in your pictures @thesortinghouse or send them in a PM if you try this Easy Creamy Polenta / Polenta Chips recipe yourself!
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