Polenta was a staple food that I ate a lot in my childhood because I grew up during the war years and food was scarce. But even so, there were so many different ways to enjoy this Italian “grits” dish and we never felt deprived in the family.
I make polenta now for our family and we all enjoy it. Here is another tasty twist on this basic dish that you can surely make!
- 2 cups polenta
- 2 ½ cups milk – whole milk
- 3 tbsp. butter – unsalted
- 2 ½ cups stock – your favorite
- ¼-1/3 cup freshly grated cheese -your favorite for garnish
- salt and pepper – to taste
- ½ tsp thyme
- 3-4 cups oil – for frying, your favorite
- chopped fresh rosemary or basil – for garnish
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- Grease or spray a rimmed baking sheet.
- Place the milk and stock (vegetable, beef, chicken) of your choice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Carefully whisk in the cornmeal then reduce the heat to low. For about 5-6 minutes, cook the cornmeal while stirring the pot constantly until the liquid has absorbed and the polenta is creamy.
- Stir in the butter, salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme. When all of these ingredients are totally incorporated, spread the polenta out onto a baking sheet that has been greased. Even it out with a spatula, then smooth the top and refrigerate for a few hours.
- Place a cutting board over the baking pan and invert the polenta onto the board. Slice the polenta in half and then slice each half into lengthwise, and then slice each of the lengthwise piece into strips that measure 4-inch long by 1-inch wide.
- In a Dutch oven or cast-iron pan with deep sides, bring the oil to a temperature of 375º. Working with several batches, carefully place the strips in the hot oil and fry until they turn golden brown, turning over as they cook. When golden, remove from the oil and spread out on a plate lined with paper-towel to absorb some of the grease.
- When all is done, sprinkle with the freshly grated cheese (parmesan or romano).
- You did it! Serve and enjoy your polenta fires while hot.
Note: We sometimes eat these as an appetizer but mostly I serve them in place of French fries.
I’m also sharing with you this picture of our favorite frying pan in the kitchen! It was actually my Dad’s frying pan which was used for everything from eggs to meat dishes to fried spaghetti. It was also used for the polenta fries and now, delightedly, it is my pan and we use it for everything too.