Golden, Crispy Fries - No Potato

Use cornmeal to make these uber-tasty baked polenta fries.

Jewish Week Online Columnist
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I once interviewed a prominent cookbook author about Chanuka foods, and how all things fried are totally tasty. She told me: "I always say you can take a lego piece and throw it in the fryer and it is so delicious." Fried things are obviously delicious, and I'm a sucker for a perfectly crisp french fry. But frying everything all the time is... not exactly artery-friendly. Luckily, we can get that crispy crunch in other ways, as with these golden-brown baked polenta fries.

Polenta is a dish of cooked cornmeal that can be served in a variety of ways. When freshly made, it has a texture almost like mashed potatoes, but if you chill it, it sets up and can be sliced into shapes and baked or fried. Blasting the polenta fries under the heat of the broiler allows them to get nice and crispy brown, giving the outside a solid crunch with a creamy, smooth inside. Polenta doesn't have much flavor, so it's a perfect vehicle to try out your favorite spice combinations. I used garlic powder and some chili powder for a kick, but you can try out pretty much any other spice.

Amy Spiro is a journalist and writer based in Jerusalem. She is a graduate of the Jerusalem Culinary Institute's baking and pastry track, a regular writer for The Jerusalem Post and blogs at bakingandmistaking.com. She also holds a BA in Journalism and Politics from NYU.

Ingredients: 
6 cups water
2 cups cornmeal (coarse ground)
1 teaspoon salt + more to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Cooking spray
Recipe Steps: 
Bring the water to a boil in a large pot, reduce the flame to low. Gradually stir in the cornmeal, whisking until it is all incorporated. Stir in the seasonings.
Cook the polenta, whisking regularly, over low heat for 25-30 minutes, until the mixture is thick and the polenta is cooked through. Add more salt and seasonings to taste. Pour the mixture onto a greased cookie sheet and spread into an even layer. Chill for at least 30 minutes until cold to the touch.
Using a knife or a pizza wheel cut the polenta into strips. Place the strips on a new greased cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray. Bake the fries on your oven's broil setting for 8-10 minutes, watching carefully in case they start to burn. Serve hot.