Fried Polenta Sticks with Tomato Sauce


We were watching The Food Network a few days ago and Giada di Laurentis was cooking up some polenta that she then fried, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and served with a thickened tomato sauce. It looked really simple and seemed like something we could get our 10 pol2year old daughter to try. First make the polenta… in a heavy pot, boil 6 cups of water. When it reaches a rolling boil, add 2 teaspoons of salt (preferably not iodized) and then slowly drizzle 1 and ¾ cups of polenta into the water while whisking constantly. You should drizzle the cornmeal in over about a minute in elapsed time, total. Lower the heat to medium low and keep stirring until it becomes a nice yellowish thick porridge, about 10-15 minutes, depending on your cornmeal, heat of the pan, etc. Once done, add several tablespoons of butter and its ready to serve.


To make the fried polenta, you need to do a few extra steps. First, prepare pol4a cookie sheet with a row side and line it with foil for easy removel of the chilled polenta. Then spread the polenta flat in the pan and allow this to cool. Stick it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours until fully set. Cut the cooled polenta into “sticks” kind of like large French fries. Heat up a small frying pan and add some olive oil about ½ an inch or more deep. When the olive oil is hot, add the cut polenta sticks and fry for several minutes, turning to brown evenly, until a light golden color. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle the hot polenta fries with some salt, grated parmesan cheese and serve it with pol5a nice thickened tomato sauce. They were absolutely delicious, crunchy on the outside and still soft and chewy on the inside. The parmesan was melting onto the caramelized “skin” of the polenta fries. They had more flavor and texture than fries and would go great as a side dish to several things such as a chicken cacciatore or other saucy main courses. My daughter ate several and we now have another source of starch in the house. The recipe here is completely Ms. Di Laurentis’ and I claim no addition to the original version at all. Delicious.


19 Responses

  1. looks scrumptious! i have a big bag of cornmeal in the pantry. i’d been so excited about my new cast-iron cornstick pan that i’ve been baking cornsticks and they’re coming out of my kids’ ears! aside from breading fish fillet, fried polenta looks like the “superest” way to use up the rest of the cornmeal. ……and that’s how the rest of the diet flew out the window… :)

  2. If you guys like polenta, try grit! same stuff but different texture and consistency, I guess. Did I explain it right mr. Marketman? oh, don’t forget the protein that goes well with it, favorite of the south “Fried Chicken”.

  3. Yes, yes, I saw the very same episode of everyday italian and was contemplating on preparing it myself. A nice alternative to french fries i suppose.

  4. Is it different ( besides color) than the superfine corn called Binlod in Cebu? Binlod is much like grits. Love grits with brown and serve sausage.

  5. Been experimenting with stuff like spelt, barley and farro, as well. Don’t quite know which are legumes and which are grains. They’re interesting alternatives to “brown rice-ing wanna be South Beach dieters”.

  6. When are you going to feature keso de Cebu? My friends from Cebu fry them and they are delicious. Please tell us how it is made etc.

    I’m trying to avoid carbs.

  7. Hope restored to know that you involve the young person in the house with simple tasks of the kitchen. That’s how feel for complex culinary executions germinate. I see lots of queries at e-gullet no less for the best recipe for this and for that from people unabashedly revealing that they have not done the basics and I just skip the thread with an umph. Attempting pâte feuilletée when you have not even baked lemon squares is equivalent to sitting in front of the piano to play the Minute Waltz with no prior training.

  8. MM,

    Can I use ordinary cornmeal? Can I fix a smaller batch (am scared that my boys might not like it)? Maybe half a batch that you made. Can wait for your answers on this.

  9. millet, I only ate two polenta fries and a salad… paul, they are a bit heavy but surprisingly good. Peter, yes grits are similar but I think I like the fried chicken better! Heehee. Ichabod, I cut my first batch too big…they would be even better if they were a bit thinner, like fries. lojet, I think it is similar but the variety of corn and the removal of some of the kernel is probably what makes it a little different… our cook thinks it looks pretty close and she’s eaten a lot of binlud. annette, that remind me…I have farro in the pantry as well! Gotta make a farro salad to have as part of my diet! Sandra, yikes, you got me on that…what is quesong Cebu? I haven’t heard of this…have to investigate! Apicio, yes, you should introduce kids to cooking…I did it from an early age to help her learn MATH what with cups and measuring spoons, lots of fun fluffy flour and sugar… I am hoping it will sink in and many decades later she will discover a love for the kitchen… Hmmm, your reference to lemon squares has reminded me that I forgot to post my two versions after I bought all of those lemons two weeks ago… Doddie, I am not sure if regular cornmeal would work…it’s worth a try and yes, you can half the recipe!

  10. Thanks MM!

    I will fix this today. I got leftover marinara sauce in the fridge and I think that will pair up nicely.Also plan to fix Jewish toasted bread pudding for dessert. Will let you know how these turn out later today.

  11. quesong cebu is really good fried with egg. there’s also what they call queseo in villareal, samar which is similar altho more tangy and salty, made from goat’s milk. almost like feta. masarap din fried with egg batter.

  12. share your farro salad recipe please… i usually just toss mine with a olive oil, garlic, vinegar, add cherry tomatoes and corn. and where do you get your farro? i hoard when i find it out of the country.

  13. corny post? I would love to have even just one fried polenta stick as a reward for my ongoing diet. crunch, crunch, munch. make that two.

  14. Wilson, pretty thick, the close-up in the third photo is about the thickness when spread. It sets pretty quickly in 2-3 hours it is ready to be cut up. I put it in the fridge for a couple of hours to make it easier to handle when cut.

  15. Hi. :) I’ve always wanted to try polenta but I have no idea where to get cornmeal in Manila. :( Any tips?



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