Smoky polenta chips – Ottolenghi


Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: Serves 4 : (12 chips).

During the week I always try to eat very healthy and the most important for me is to  reduce my meat consumption. But the weekend on the other hand, I’m delighted to have a very nice piece of meat. So last Saturday we had steak with these smoky polenta chips instead of a regular french fries. I mean I love french fries, who doesn’t !!?  But these polenta chips are incredibly tasty too, crispy from the outside and soft on the inside, flavoured with smoked Italian cheese « scamorza affumicata ». 

It’s a perfect side to go with any meat or fish, as you can serve them as an appetiser with aioli or tomato sauce like in this recipe. It’s also a very interesting way to use the polenta. 

The polenta chips are versatile, you can flavour them in endless way, like here with this recipe from Ottolenghi “ truffle polenta chips”.

What is scamorza affumicata cheese ?

The recipe calls for “Scamorza affumicata”, which is an Italian cheese made from cow milk or a mixture of cow and sheep milk, it’s a semi – soft white cheese with a texture comparable to a dry mozzarella. It has a tawny outer pellicle which comes as a result of a particular smoking process. And that explains its distinctive smoky flavour.

In this recipe and according to Ottolenghi, you can substitute it with another cheese such as “Italian provolone” or “applewood smoked cheddar”.

So how to make these smoky polenta chips ?

This recipe is from “plenty more” one of my favorite Ottolenghi’s book.

Smoky polenta chips Ottolenghi –

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil, turn the heat down and slowly add the polenta while stirring until all the polenta is incorporated. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring all the time. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, the cheese, black pepper and salt. Taste before adding salt, because of the cheese and in case the stock contain salt , so make sure to not over-season the polenta. Stir and once the cheese and the butter have both melted into the mix, transfer to a small shallow tray and spread it evenly.

Then let it cool down before placing it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You can do it a night before if you want. 

Next cut the polenta into sticks, toss them in the flour until well coated, shake off any excess of flour and fry them. I know what you’ll say it’s not exactly healthy, but who cares ? it was the weekend my cheating day, and above all it was sooo delicious. Who can resit to a steak and a crispy smoky polenta chips ? Definitely not me.

If you have tried these “smoky polenta chips” or any ther recipe on the blog, please let me know in the comment below, I love hearing from you.

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Smoky polenta chips - Ottolenghi

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Total time: 40 minutes
  • Serves: Serves 4 : (12 chips).

Ingredients :

Polenta chips :

  • 375 ml vegetable stock
  • 60 g quick - cook polenta
  • 20 g unsalted butter
  • 60 g scamorza affumicata , coarsely grated
  • Salt and black pepper

Tomato dip « Ketchup » :

  • 3 large plum tomatoes, 320g
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Small onion , thinly sliced (100g)
  • 2 garlic gloves, crushed
  • 1/8 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 3/4 tsp caster sugar
  • Salt and black pepper

Frying :

  • vegetable oil
  • 50 g plain flour

Method :

  • 1)

    In a small saucepan bring the stock t the boil. Slowly add the polenta white stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook on a gentle heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring all the time.

    Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the butter, the cheese and 1/2 teaspoon of salt ( if the stock doesn’t contain any, taste t make sure otherwise the polenta will be too salty) add a good grind of black pepper. Once the cheese and the butter have both melted into the mix, transfer to a small shallow tray, about 22 cm square and 3cm deep ( I used 20cm/12cm rectangle ring and it was perfect), lined with cling film.

    Use a wet spatula to smooth out and level the polenta to an even layer of about 1,5cm. Cover the surface with more cling film, so that a skin doesn’t form and leave to cool completely, before chilling for at least 30 minutes.


  • 2)

    Meanwhile, make a tomato sauce. Place a large non -stick frying pan on high heat and turn on the extractor fan, if you have one. Once hot, put the tomatoes inside and leave on a high heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The tomato skins need to blacken well, don’t be tempted to remove them from the heat too early. Transfer the hot tomatoes to a mixing bowl and break them with the spoon. When cool enough to handle, pick out the skins and discard.

    Heat the olive il in a small pan, add the onion and cook on a medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 4 minutes before transferring the mixture to the tomatoes, along with the chilli flakes, tomato purée, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Use a hand-held blender or the small bowl of food processor to blitz to rough paste. Set aside until the sauce comes to room temperature.

  • 3)

    Once the polenta is chilled and properly set, remove it from the tray and cut into chips, roughly 1,5cm thick and 6cm long. Fill a medium saucepan with enough vegetable oil to come 2cm up its sides and place on a medium-high heat.

    Toss the chips in the flour until well coated, shake off the excess of flour.

    Carefully place in the hot oil. Fry for about 6 minutes t a golden – brown colour  and transfer to kitchen paper to drain. Don’t fry too many chips at a time, if the pan is overcrowded the temperature of the il will drop and the chips won’t crisp. Try to put one at a time s the other don’t stuck t the other.

  • 4)

    Serve hot, with the tomato sauce spooned on top or in a bowl alongside.

    Enjoy !!


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