Crisp on the outside, creamy within, and fabulously moreish
Serve these as nibbles, alongside a piece of steak, or with a zippy vegetable casserole such as Sicilian caponata. Serve warm—otherwise the corn meal will firm up and become rather rubbery.
600ml chicken or vegetable stock
150g polenta, plus 2-3 tbsp for the crust
50g parmesan, grated
2-3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
Line a 20 x 20cm tin or tray with greased baking parchment. Bring the stock up to the boil in a large saucepan and then tip in the polenta in a fine stream, stirring all the time. A flat-ended wooden spoon is an ideal tool to scrape the polenta from the bottom and corners of the pan as you stir, preventing it from sticking. It’s wise to wear an oven glove, as the polenta will spit as it thickens. Stir until the polenta is silky smooth and coming away from the sides of the pan (the length of time will vary according to supplier—do check the instructions on the pack).
Once off the heat you can stir in the parmesan, rosemary and plenty of black pepper. Taste for salt—you may not need any, it will depend on your stock.
Tip the polenta into a lined tin, creating a layer about 2cm thick, lay a sheet of lightly greased paper on the top and smooth over the surface. Leave to cool and firm up—1 hour in the fridge will do the trick, but you can do this a day ahead if you want to be organised.
Cut the set polenta into fingers about 10cm long and 2cm wide. Pour the remaining uncooked polenta onto a flat plate and turn the chips over to dust.
Switch on a warming oven. Heat up a large frying pan with half the olive oil over a medium flame and fry a few chips at a time, turning carefully until they are browned on all sides. Place the crisp chips on some absorbent paper and then keep warm in the oven until they are all ready to serve. Clean the pan after a couple of batches and continue with the remaining oil until all your chips are fried.
You can opt to roast the chips instead of frying—they won’t be quite as crisp, but will still be delicious. Roll the chips in olive oil before dusting with polenta and roast for about 30 mins in an oven at 210C.
ALTERNATIVES Try adding different flavours such as chilli, thyme, sage or even a tiny dash of truffle oil to the polenta to ring the changes, or wrap the cooked chips in small slithers of prosciutto, or serve with pesto or fresh tomato salsa.
Recipe: Jenny Chandler
Image: Kim Lightbody