Friday, June 14, 2013

Garlic Polenta Oven-Fries

To download a copy of the recipe for Garlic Polenta Oven-Fries, click HERE.

If you’ve ever created a recipe, you already know they can originate in many ways. This week’s recipe for Garlic Polenta Oven Fries began as one of those, “I wonder if this would work” ideas. I’m happy to say it did work, and quite well at that.

The concept is a simple one. Although polenta is often thought of as having the thick consistency of, say, mashed potatoes, it is also sometimes allowed to cool until it sets into a kind of loaf with a texture more like gelatin that is then cut into circles using a cookie cutter and pan-fried to a delicious golden brown. With that second way of serving polenta in mind, I had the idea of letting it set and cutting it into sticks; the sticks would then be seasoned and browned under a broiler until they formed a kind of polenta French fry.

From this concept, and with the inspiration of the legendary garlic fries served during San Francisco Giant games at AT&T Park, came a tasty – and very unique – side dish.

A couple of Cook’s Notes concerning polenta:

  • Polenta, which you’ll see below is quite easy to make fresh, is made from cornmeal a bit finer than the coarse kind used for grits. (There’s also a traditional Southern dish call mush - pronounced as in “mushroom,” not as would rhyme with push - that’s made from a cornmeal that’s finer still.)

  • There is considerable disagreement among cooks in the matter of what liquid should be used to make polenta. Some cooks use chicken broth. Being of the opinion that this can mask the corn meal’s natural corn flavor, I’m on the side of those who use water. Ultimately, of course, the right liquid to use is whichever one you like best.

This recipe makes 3 side-dish size servings.

Here’s what you’ll need: 3 cups of water; salt; 1 cup cornmeal; butter substitute (for coating the baking dish); fresh ground black pepper; garlic powder; and cooking spray.

First we’ll make the polenta.

Bring 3 cups of salted water just to the boiling point.

After reducing the heat to low, add the cornmeal to the water, a little at a time, whisking constantly to avoid the formation of lumps. Let the cornmeal mixture bubble until very thick to form the polenta, about 20 minutes, whisking very frequently.

To cool and set the polenta:

Transfer the cooked polenta to a buttered 11” x 7” baking dish. Smooth the polenta with a spatula or spoon, cover with foil. Refrigerate for about two hours till the polenta is set and firm.

Once the polenta has cooled and set, it’s time to prepare the polenta “French fries.”

Begin preheating the broiler to high.

Slice the polenta into “French fry” type sticks.

Place the polenta sticks onto a baking pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Lightly spray the polenta slices with cooking spray, and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Place the polenta sticks in the oven and broil till lightly browned , about 20 minutes. When done, turn the polenta French fries over, spray with cooking spray, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder, and return to the oven until the tops are lightly browned, about another five minutes.

When the polenta fries are done, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes until they can be touched. Serve warm as a side dish.

To download a copy of the recipe for Garlic Polenta Oven-Fries, click HERE.

Now that’s food that’s tasty, fun to eat, and totally unique. Reduced fat, too!

Hope you’ll come back next week for another great tasting recipe! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. Hi, Ben--

    This is one I'll be sharing with my parents. My dad's always looking for things he can cook that he and my mom'll both like--and they both like polenta.

    Thank you, :)


    1. Thank you so much, Val. :-) It's not often a recipe gets taken home to meet the parents. Now that's an endorsement!