Holy expletive, what is going on with this crazy weather?? It's too early in the year for this! Is anyone else terrified to see what January / February will bring us? Thinking about this cold snap is a serious downer. So let's talk about a happier topic, my favorite topic to be exact: food.
I've been playing around with polenta and its many forms lately. These baked polenta fries have been my favorite by far because they have that lovely textural contradiction of a crispy exterior and creamy center. Paired with habanero ketchup this is sure to warm you up, at least for a moment.
Baked Polenta with habanero ketchup recipe
1 cup polenta
3/4 sharp cheddar cheese
I handful fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil for greasing
Salt & pepper
1 sheet tinfoil
Marie Sharp hot sauce
Coat 1 large baking pan with raised edges with a light layer of olive oil (use 1 of the 2 tablespoons).
Add 1 teaspoon of salt in 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Whisk in polenta little by little and reduce heat to low. Continue to stir the polenta while adding the cheddar cheese and parsley. Grind in black pepper and salt to taste. Once all of the water has cooked down and the polenta has thickened, remove it from the heat.
Scoop the polenta onto the greased baking pan and spread it in an even layer so that it is about 1/2 inch thick. Chill for 45 minutes to an hour. You can also make this ahead of time and bake the next day.
When you are ready to cook the polenta, turn on your oven's broiler. Slice the polenta into "fries" in whatever shape or size your heart desires. I made mine about 4 inches long and 1 cm across. Place the polenta fries onto a baking sheet lined with tin foil and well greased with the rest of the olive oil. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese and place in the oven on the top rack. *Important* Keep a careful eye on the fries! In my oven I only needed to cook them for about 7 minutes. Pull them out as soon as the outside has started to brown. Cool and serve with habanero ketchup.
To make the habanero ketchup, simply mix together 4 parts ketchup to 1 part Marie Sharp habanero hot sauce.
If you haven't tried Marie Sharp yet, you must! I had this Belizean hot sauce for the first time while in San Pedro a few months back. They make a bunch of different varieties and that all have really interesting bases. The habanero one is made with carrots and another I tried had prickly pear.
If you can't find Marie Sharp, Sriracha ketchup is also pretty darn good.
Stay toasty my friends!