Sitting down to a wooden board of polenta chips with chunky tomato sauce and a knife and fork felt like heresy to me. I was as if I was about to betray the reign of my longstanding favourite King of dirty foods – the hot potato chip. I was yearning for the the old newspaper wrapping stained with grease, a few squirts of Heinz Big Red and a heart gripping shake of salt. I simply wasn’t ready to buy into this gourmet polenta chip thing. “Long live the hot potato chip!” I rallied, fork in hand and crying on the inside as the knife blade went chop through the polenta.
In case you couldn’t tell I love hot chips. I always have. When I was a wee thing my Mum tried to trick me into eating pumpkin chips because she was worried that the only vegetables I ate were raw celery, raw carrot and hot potato chips. Bad luck for Mum as I had my four year old wits about me that day and I swiftly foiled her cunning plan by confirming the bleeding obvious: “They aren’t real chips, Mummy.” The orange coloured pumpkin ‘chips’ went cold.
These days while I’m still mad for a hot chip, they are on my ‘sometimes food’ schedule, but when I do indulge I make sure that they are the darned bestest hot chips I can find. I’m not really into French fries though. Explain to me where the potato filling disappears to? There’s just no comfort in eating an empty shell of nothing. Then there are the gangly shoestring fries that you need to fold in half to fit in your mouth because they are twice the length of a potato’s diameter. Can someone explain this freak of nature to me too please? I do, however, enjoy shoestring fries served with lashings of aioli. I’ll even eat Poutine if I’m having a particularly disgusting diet day. However my favourite hot chips of all time are the kind you get from the ‘chipper’ – thickly cut and loaded with fluffy potato and a crisp, double fried shell that packs some crunch. When you break them in half you can watch the steam rise. You can’t resist popping one in your mouth immediately, forced to fan your face futiley to stop the burning. Served with a shake of salt hot potato chips are king. Deep fried in duck fat they’re even better.
So it was with some uncertainty that I embarked on making these Polenta Chips with Chunky Tomato Sauce for the first time recently. Would they live up to their chip namesake? I set some leftover polenta flavoured with butter, herbs and handfuls of grated parmesan on a baking tray in the fridge overnight and the next day I cut out generous sized chips or batons. I then oven baked the chips until beautifully golden and crunchy around the edges – about 20 minutes – just enough time to whip up my quick homemade chunky tomato sauce. After the chips had cooled enough for me to slide them from the baking tray Mr GFAF and I sat down, knives and forks in hand and he made the first incision. I watched his face and knew right away that I was onto a winner. I took my first mouthful and went in for a second with sauce. They were fluffy in the inside and crunchy on the outside with a good amount of steam coming from within. I may have fanned my face a little too. Delish!
While the hot potato chip reigns supreme, the gourmet polenta chip is definitely an heir apparent and there is plenty of room in my life for both of them. “Long live the chip!”
- POLENTA CHIPS
- 1 cup Instant Polenta
- 3 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
- 30g Butter
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
- 1 tablespoon Rosemary Leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Oregano Leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Thyme Leaves
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- TOMATO SAUCE
- 480 g Cherry Truss Tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 tablespoon Butter
- 1 Garlic Clove, crushed
- 1 French Shallot, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon Caster Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Oregano leaves, chopped
- 1 red Chilli, chopped (optional)
- For the POLENTA CHIPS, heat the stock to boiling in a medium sized saucepan.
- Slowly pour in the polenta, whisking continuously for 2 - 3 minutes to prevent any lumps.
- Once thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter and parmesan cheese and season to taste.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the polenta 1cm thick into a rectangle around 20 x 24cm.
- Refrigerate the polenta for at least 30 minutes to allow it to set.
- Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
- Using a ruler and a sharp knife, cut the polenta into 2cm x 10cm chips.
- Grease a fresh baking tray and lay out the chips. Brush the top sides of the chips with olive oil and bake for round 25 minutes.
- Sprinkle the chips with extra salt and thyme leaves and serve with the Tomato Sauce.
- For the TOMATO SAUCE, place your tomatoes in a large bowl and squash them with the back of a fork - being careful not to squirt yourself!
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan or fry pan and cook the garlic, shallot and chill (if using) until soft.
- Add the squashed tomatoes and their juice, the sugar and seasoning and cook until the tomatoes are soft (15 minutes or so).
- Stir in the oregano and serve the sauce in a bowl alongside the Polenta Chips.
- When you take the Polenta Chips out of the oven, allow them to sit for 10 minutes or so before you try and lift them off the baking tray. This will allow them to firm slightly and hold their shape without sticking to the tray.