One of my favourite flavour combinations is jalapeño cheddar, and I really do try to incorporate this flavour combo in to a lot of the recipes I come up with. This one seemed like a natural combo - creamy polenta meets salty cheddar and spicy roasted jalapeños. These polenta fries are baked at a high temperature in lots of olive oil to get the ultimate crispy crust. Dip them in a cool mayo based sauce like chipotle mayo, and you've got the ultimate snack.
Jalapeño Cheddar Polenta Fries
Prep Time: 3 hours Cook Time: 1 hour Yield: 6-8 servings
1 large or 2 small jalapeños, seeds removed (leave some if you want some heat)
1/4 cup + 1 tbs olive oil, divided
6 cups water or chicken/vegetable broth
1 chicken/vegetable bouillon cube (omit if using broth instead of water)
1 clove garlic, grated
3 cups cord ground cornmeal
1/2 cup milk (you can use milk alternatives as well)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
2 tbs butter
2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
Start by roasting the jalapeño. Deseed, then coat in 1 tbs olive oil and some salt. Place on a parchment or foil lined baking tray and broil on high until the skin blisters (anywhere from 5-12 mins, keep an eye on it). Alternatively, you can air fry the jalapeños at 400 F for 10-12 minutes, until blistered. Once cooled, minced and set aside.
In a large pot, bring the water or broth up to a boil on high. Add the bouillon cube if using, a pinch of salt and the grated garlic. Boil until the bouillon cube has fully dissolved, then whisk in the cornmeal and reduce heat to low. Allow the polenta to simmer for 10-15 minutes, until soft, tender, and fully cooked. Stir often during this process.
Whisk in the milk, chopped jalapeño, fresh herbs and butter, until fully combined. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cheeses until fully incorporated. Taste for salt at this point, and add more if needed.
Transfer the polenta to a parchment or foil lined baking tray, and spread out to about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. If you need to, use two pans. Wrap the pan(s) in plastic wrap, and freeze for 2 hours or until firm (but not frozen), or refrigerate overnight or until firm.
Once the polenta has firmed, remove them from fridge/freezer and preheat the oven to 425 F. Cut the sheet(s) of polenta into fry shapes. Line 2 baking trays with parchment or foil, and add 1/4 of the the remaining olive oil to the bottoms of the trays. Lay out the fries, giving them a little of space in between (make sure they're not touching). Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, and put on the top and bottom rack of the oven** (important!). Bake for 15-20 minutes, then remove from oven and flip each fry on to the other side. If needed, drizzle with a little more olive oil, and return to the top and bottom rack of the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until dark golden and crispy.
**If you use the middle rack of the oven, you will need to increase cooking time for about 10-15 minutes on each side to get the same level of crispiness.