Polenta is not something I really grew up eating, and because I was unfamiliar with it, it took a fair bit of time to work out exactly how to cook it. I remember trying to cook it for my son when he was a baby, and was left confused by the resulting gluggy weirdness and how the hell I was supposed to cut it into fingers.
Clearly, I was still learning, and managed to find some really vagueless recipes that offered little guidance to the still-learning-how-to-cook new mother desperate to raise a good eater (I did manage to succeed in that, despite my complete ignorance of cooking cornmeal). Thankfully, over the past 12 years, I’ve learned how to find and evaluate good recipes, and combine them into something that works for me.
Which brings me to my spin on baked polenta chips. I’m thrilled to report that my son DOES in fact love them (sorry for the delay, dude!)… as did my daughter and husband. I did too. I know that traditionally, scagliozzi is fried, but on top of preferring a lower calorie side dish, I’ve never really been a big fan of deep fried food (except for really good chips). However, when baked, these are a cheesy, tasty treat that the whole family will gobble up. Prepared this way, 1/5 of the recipe is only 250 calories, and considering how filling it is, that’s pretty good! Some lean meat and steamed veggies, and you’ve got yourself and amazing meal.
Do keep in mind that you need to make the polenta the night before (or up to two days ahead), but even though it’s a 2 part recipe, neither part takes very much time or effort.
250g instant polenta
1 litre chicken stock
Spray oil (or 1.5 tbs olive oil, but the spray oil makes it easier)
Salt and pepper to taste
4tbs grated parmesan
The night before
- Line a large, shallow baking dish with baking paper and spray lightly, or brush with half a tablespoon of the oil.
- Bring stock to the boil in a medium sized saucepan. In a very slow stream, and whisking vigorously all the while, pour the polenta into the stock.
- Continue whisking for about 5 minutes, or until the polenta easily moves from the side of the pan when stirring.
- Remove from heat and stir the butter in until completely melted.
- Pour into prepared dish and spread until about 1cm thick. Allow to cool, then refrigerate (uncovered) overnight or up to two days.
45 minutes before serving
- Preheat oven to 210C. Remove dish from fridge and cut polenta into fingers. Allow the dish to come to room temperature for about 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle polenta with salt, pepper and parmesan, then spray/drizzle with oil.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until golden. You may wish to check after 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.