Baked Chili Cheese Polenta Fries

by Heidi @ Food Doodles on January 31, 2012

I have a few recipes in my repertoire that fix my cravings for anything crunchy.  One actually uses millet, which I’ll post another time, another is oven baked potato fries.  And then there’s this one.  Polenta bakes up wonderfully crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, if you haven’t tried it, you really should.  It’s surprisingly simple, can be flavored so many different ways and chilling the polenta is what takes the longest, but if you plan in advance these are super quick to make, especially if you broil them instead of just baking them.

You’ll notice in the recipe I said the cheese is optional.  I actually don’t think the cheese added a whole lot to the fries, so next time I would leave it out and then in the last couple minutes of baking or broiling, sprinkle cheese over top and bake them just until it’s melted.  How awesome does that sound?  I also think a fresh jalapeno, finely diced and added with the garlic would be so yummy.   Too bad I always think of the best ideas after the fact, hah.  Either way though, if you want to omit the cheese(and even use oil instead of butter for a dairy-free version) and just serve them on their own with sour cream or greek yogurt and salsa, they’re still awesome 🙂

[print_this]Baked Chili Cheese Polenta Fries

  • 1/4C butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced, pressed or grated
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 11/2C water
  • 2C milk
  • 1C cornmeal
  • 1/2C grated aged cheddar cheese(optional)

Prepare a 9×13 pan by greasing it lightly and set aside.

In a medium sized pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Once hot, add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes before adding all the seasonings including the spices and salt, and the water and milk.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat for just a moment and slowly add the cornmeal while whisking vigorously.  Once all the cornmeal is added return the pot to the heat and bring back up to a boil until the polenta is thickened.  Once thick, remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, if using.  Once melted, pour directly into the 9×13 pan and spread out evenly.  Cool before covering and placing in the fridge until completely chilled.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, or preheat the broiler.

Remove from the fridge and flip the pan over onto the counter to remove the polenta.  Then cut the polenta into “fries” about 1/2″ thick(I start by cutting the edges off so some fries don’t have a weird edge).  Spray a baking sheet with oil and place the fries on the baking sheet, evenly spaced.  Spray the tops lightly with oil.  Place the baking sheet in the oven.

If baking the fries at 400 degrees, bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until just golden on the bottom, then turn on the broiler and broil until the tops are golden(being aware that the bottoms will continue to darken with the broiler on).

If broiling, you can move the rack in your oven up closer to the heating element(but not too close – 6″-8″ is ideal) and if your broiler has different settings, choose the normal or medium setting.  Broil until the tops are golden, then remove the baking sheet and flip the fries, carefully, as they might stick to the pan.  Continue to broil until crispy on at least 2 sides.  How long this will take will depend on how close the fries are to the heating element and how hot the broiler on your oven gets – this took about 10 minutes for the first side and 5-6 minutes for the other side(s) in my oven on a darker baking sheet.  Once done, remove from the baking sheet and place on paper towels to absorb any extra oil, taste and sprinkle with extra salt if needed and serve with salsa and/or sour cream.

*After the polenta has chilled in the fridge it can be frozen, either cut into fries or in larger pieces.  Just be sure to wrap it with plastic wrap and place it in a freezer bag and use within 3-4 months.[/print_this]

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anita February 11, 2012 at 19:03

I love polenta and have never seen it in fry form. Good show!

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2 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen February 8, 2012 at 02:41

Polenta fries are the best! I love your spiced up version.

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3 Beth @ Tasty Yummies February 2, 2012 at 21:30

These look so amazing! I would love to try making these dairy=free. You think I could use olive oil in place of the butter?

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4 Heidi @ Food Doodles February 3, 2012 at 06:58

Yes, I think that would work just fine! 🙂

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5 Joanne February 2, 2012 at 05:37

I love all things polenta and these fries would make me unendingly happy!

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6 Nicole, RD February 1, 2012 at 20:28

I am officially sad to say I’ve never cooked with polenta. CLEARLY I am missing out on lots! These look…amazing! No other word would do!

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7 Nora @ Natural noshing February 1, 2012 at 18:43

Totally making these! I LOVE polenta but the hubs isn’t much of a fan…maybe if I made them in fry form then it would entice him 🙂 These look SO scrumptious! I wish I was eating these with dinner right now!

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8 kitchenriffs February 1, 2012 at 10:14

These look tremendous! Love the concept. Haven’t done polenta for awhile – this looks like a nice version. And I love the colors in your photos!

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9 beth@kitchenminions February 1, 2012 at 08:04

Polenta fries sound like a great replacement. I’m looking forward to your millet recipe!

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10 Heather February 1, 2012 at 07:42

Mmmmm: can things get anymore amazing with the these Polenta Fries- they absolutely look perfect . An awesome alternative to french fries – must make!

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11 sally February 1, 2012 at 07:35

These look pretty awesome–and would be a good snack for the Superbowl!

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12 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen January 31, 2012 at 21:19

This is something I would’ve never thought to do with polenta. It’s one of those things I don’t make nearly enough for how simple it is.

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13 Cara January 31, 2012 at 20:04

When I first read the title I was thinking that one could dip the fries in chili or smother them with chili and cheese and then bake them. Not a bad idea! I love polenta 🙂

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14 Marsha @ The Harried Cook January 31, 2012 at 19:38

What a wonderful idea… I bet it tastes awesome! And your pictures are just gorgeous! I feel a craving coming on!!! Thank you for sharing 🙂

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15 Michelle January 31, 2012 at 18:05

These look delicious! I love baked and crunchy anything! I’ll be making these!

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16 Carolyn @Care's Kitchen January 31, 2012 at 15:38

OK….THESE….look delicious! They’re perfectly cooked! Crunchy on the out, soft in the center! Polenta, in general, is one of those things I need to master! Thanks for sharing the recipe, I will make these….

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17 Kathryn January 31, 2012 at 15:05

I love polenta fries and that kick of spice is just perfect!

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