Ever since Jamie's Italian opened a branch in Sydney, I've only been there once, with three other friends. I had the Buffalo Ricotta ravioli with lemon and mint, which in all honesty, I thought was a rather confusing dish because as I was eating it, I kept tasting Lemon Curd Tart, and wished it was served as a dessert instead. If it was intended to be a main-and-dessert all in one, it certainly achieved its purpose. I suppose we had higher expectations for the food, as we found that the other mains were either underseasoned or lacking in flavour (we must have caught the chef on a bad day). That explains why I never went back again. Well, not until Ms L told me that the crispy polenta chips at Jamie's Italian were very, very good. I did want to go back just to try them, but the rest of the girls weren't really keen on going back just to have a small bowl of overpriced chips.
So, I did a bit of research and stumbled upon quite a few recipes for polenta chips. It's basically polenta cakes that are sliced, coated in [raw] polenta and deep-fried. These are then sprinkled with rosemary salt and grated parmesan while they are still hot. My oh my, they were so crispy and delicious, especially with the umami flavours from the parmesan combined with the scent of rosemary. Addictive! These would make a great snack for movie nights, games nights, or simply with a pint of beer in one hand. You can even make the polenta cakes ahead of time and refrigerate them until you're ready to fry and serve them up. I bet they'll taste great with aioli too!
Crispy Polenta Chips with Parmesan and Rosemary
1 cup polenta (I used non-instant)
2 cups cold (room temperature) water
1 1/2 cups boiling water (approx)
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup polenta, extra, for coating
Vegetable oil for frying
Rosemary leaves, chopped
Finely grated parmesan
In a medium pot, add 2 cups cold water and stir in the polenta. Turn on the heat to medium and stir the polenta constantly until it starts to simmer. Add 1 1/2 cups boiling water, and then bring the polenta mixture to a simmer again. Turn down the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the polenta from clumping. Stir in the butter and add salt to taste. Pour the mixture into a baking dish or pan lined with clingwrap. Spread it evenly and smoothen the surface. Set aside to cool, and if necessary, pop it into the fridge for a while so that the polenta cake firms up.
Remove the polenta cake from the baking dish and slice into cubes or bite-sized nuggets (about 1/3 inch thick).
Place the extra 1/3 cup polenta in a shallow dish and toss in the sliced polenta cubes to coat evenly. Shake off excess polenta. Heat sufficient vegetable oil in a pan/wok for deep-frying. Deep-fry the polenta cubes in batches, for about 5-7 minutes until golden and crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper, and then place in a serving bowl. While they are still hot, sprinkle with salt, rosemary and plenty of grated parmesan. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Note: For a healthier alternative, you may choose to bake these in the oven at 200C (400F) instead of deep-frying them.