A few months back while at the grocery store I picked up a tube of polenta. I had only cooked with polenta a few times and it was always with meal kit delivery services like Purple Carrot and Hello Fresh. So I was pretty clueless on the polenta front. I threw it in the cart and thought “I’ll figure something out” and moved along.
When I got home I did a quick polenta Pinterest search and found tons and tons of recipes. Apparently polenta is super popular and I’ve been living under a rock. Just me?
A polenta fries recipe caught my eye and after quickly perusing it I realized that it doesn’t get much easier than that. I cut the polenta into french fry shapes, baked them and voila! Perfect crispy fries to go with our savory curry ketchup.
Then Nat and I got to thinking… what about making polenta from scratch?
It turns out it isn’t a whole lot harder than using the store-bought polenta. Plus, it’s way more exciting because you can add different spices and seasonings to create fun new flavors. (Feel free to mix up the seasonings and experiment!) Making it from scratch also has another additional benefit – toned arms. The 5 minutes of whisking does create a nice burn in the arm.. so make sure to alternate. No one wants just one toned arm…
Realistically speaking, polenta is not a nutritional powerhouse. It’s simply made from cornmeal and cornmeal doesn’t have a lot to offer, in regards to nutrition. However, in comparison to the traditional fried potato french fries, polenta fries are leaps and bounds healthier.
Your typical fast food fries are 43% fat, have a hefty dose of sodium and might have anywhere from 300 to 600 calories depending on size (that’s about how many calories a meal should have).
These fries, on the other hand, have about 150 calories and 1 gram of fat in 1 generous serving.
Which is the better savory treat? You decide.
We used this 9×9 inch OXO pan for this recipe. (Note this is an affiliate link.)
- 8 cups water
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder optional
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Line a 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper, making sure it goes up all 4 sides.
- Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat.
- Stir together cornmeal and spices in a large mixing bowl.
- Once water is boiling, reduce heat to low and add cornmeal mix to water and quickly but carefully whisk for 4-5 minutes, or until mixture begins to thicken. Mixture should be smooth, without large chunks.
- Pour into parchment-lined pan, using a spatula to spread evenly throughout pan. Lightly tap pan on countertop to evenly disperse.
- Place pan in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (or overnight) to firm.
- Preheat oven to 400'F. Lift sides of parchment paper to transfer firmed polenta to cutting board. Cut into 1/3" thick french fry shapes.
- Bake fries for 30 minutes, carefully flipping halfway through.
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