Fed up with potato-based sauce-soakers for dinner? Chips, roast potatoes, baked spuds, mash… they can get a little bit dull; a bit run-of-the-mill. Well, here’s something that will change gears for you: polenta chips.
Mrs Romance is very ‘meh’ when it comes to potato goods. I love the humble spud, so there’s always conflict here.
Polenta chips, however, are the best compromise we’ve found so far. They look like chips, but they taste better and their texture is… is… sorry, got distracted. They’re crispy and crunchy outside but inside they’re creamy and soft and… and… sorry, distracted again. And drooling now.
Okay, so how do you make them? This is the best bit: They’re easy!
Here’s what you need:
- 1 cup polenta
- 4 cups water
- 1 stock cube
- 1 clove of garlic – finely chopped
- 1 tbsp butter – optional
- Salt and pepper
- Sprinkle of chili powder (optional)
- A big pan
- A baking tray lined with baking paper
- Oil – preferably rice bran but vegetable or sunflower oil is good too.
Here’s what you do:
- In your big pan, boil the water and dissolve the stock cube.
- Add the garlic.
- Keep the water boiling and stir in a steady, fine stream of polenta until it’s all in there.
- Keep stirring – you may well need to add more water as you cook. The polenta absorbs the stock and swells.
- Keep cooking and stirring. You can test whether the
polenta’s cooked by squishing it between your fingers.
- If it goes to mush, you know it’s ready.
- Once the polenta’s done, it should have a thick soupy consistency, and not too watery. You can add the butter now if you want. It just gives a bit of gloss and extra creaminess to the mix.
- You can also add extra flavours like chili to it if you like.
- Season the polenta with salt and pepper – but remember the stock will have that flavour already.
- Make sure the baking paper completely covers the baking tray, including the sides.
- Once it’s cooled a bit, pour the polenta onto the baking tray. Don’t worry about spreading it out, just pour. This stuff is self-settling!
- Put the tray in the fridge for at least two hours or until it’s completely set. You can test it the same way you do a cake by poking it with a toothpick. If the pick comes away clean, you’re good to go. Also if you wobble the tray and the polenta moves like jelly, it’s not ready.
- When it’s set, lift the polenta out onto a cutting board using the paper.
- Slice the polenta into even oblongs like big thick chips.
- Heat a pan of oil until it’s very hot. You’ll need enough oil to cover half the sides of the polenta chips.
- Cook the chips in batches, turning them carefully so that all four long sides are cooked and crispy. I twice-fry mine for added crunch.
- Drain the chips and serve as quickly as possible, because everyone will be shouting at you that they want to eat them!
But is polenta all that good for you?
According to health experts, polenta is:
“…a low carbohydrate food rich in vitamin A and C making it a good source of the caroteinoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. The concentration reaches a level of 1,355 micrograms per 100 grams. The level of beta-carotene is 97 micrograms per 100 grams with health benefits like cancer and heart disease prevention.”
On the other hand, make sure you get organic polenta. Polenta is ground corn. Corn is now pretty much all genetically modified, so to avoid any health implications (we don’t know that much about GM, let’s face it), organic is the way to go here.