Baked Polenta Fries

My family loves polenta, but the leftovers solidify into a slimy brick. I had polenta fries at a restaurant once and tried to replicate it at home using a bit of oil and a non-stick pan. The polenta fries tasted ok, but I had to spend another 40 minutes cleaning spattered olive oil off the stove-top. Plus, the crispy exterior would often detach when I tried to flip it – and without the crispy exterior, what's the point, really.

Since I had the oven on already, I sliced the polenta into rectangles, drizzled them in olive oil and popped them into the oven. Perfectly crisped, creamy on the inside polenta fries emerged 30 minutes later. Frying and cleaning grease was for suckers.

Polenta recipe:
6 cups water
2 cups dried polenta, add slowly while stirring continuously
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 cups whole milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/8 tsp fresh rosemary or thyme (minced, optional)

Instructions: Very slowly add the polenta to boiling water while stirring continuously to prevent lumps. Cook over medium-low heat while stirring until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes). Add the salt, herbs, and milk, cover and heat over low until desired consistency (about 10-15 minutes). Add shredded cheese and stir to combine. 

Enjoy half the polenta as a side-dish the first night. It is marvelous with roasted veggies, meat, fish or stew. Then before it completely solidifies, pour the leftovers into a 9x9" pan, cover and forget about it until fry time.

When you're ready to make fries, preheat the oven to 425° and slice the polenta into 1" x 3" rectangles (as if you're cutting up a pan of brownies). Place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil (massage the oil around each fry). Bake for around 25-30 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. 

baked polenta fries