Polenta Chips & Ajvar Yoghurt dip

Even though Frankfurt already feels familiar, I admit that it takes a long time to find all the city’s best spots. And with best spots I don’t mean the ones that are most popular or that are the hippest places to be seen. Quite the contrary I would argue. It is rather the places that make me feel like I want to come back or not leave at all that are most difficult to find.

Just before I moved out of my Amsterdam appartment, I visited this relatively new restaurant in the south part of the city after reading a raving review. Looking back, it was one of the last weeks that I really lived in Amsterdam, without having the knowledge that I’d be on my way to Frankfurt so soon. Probably that makes this dinner stick in my memorie as such a nice evening, simply because in my mind it is so connected to living close to my friends and being able to have a spontaneous weekday dinner.
The restaurant was this very pleasant and cozy place to be and the thing I couldn’t get enough of were the Polenta Fries. Wait, what?! Yes, exactly. Polenta fries. They are sturdy like potato fries, but also have something coarse and chewy, with the advantage that you can already add a really good layer of flavor to the polenta itself.
Considering I can’t go back without traveling for four hours, I am super happy to have discovered that these are surprisingly easy to make at home. It will take a little time, but the amount of polenta fries is overwhelming and I do see all kinds of economical advantages.
Plus, it is very easy to make the first couple of steps in advance and tuck away in your freezer, so it almost becomes a very easy meal, especially together with a large salad.
Until I am going back to this place, I will eat these at my own kitchen table, still missing my friends, of course.

Polenta Chips & Ajvar Yoghurt Dip
This makes a very large amount and can easily be amended, in case you prefer to cook just one side-dish. The recipe of my polenta is based on this recipe over at The Kitchn and makes around 2 large plates of polenta fries.

  • 200 grams of polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • 400 grams of milk
  • 400 grams of water
  • 2 teaspoons of salt, I used himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon of freshly chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika powder (mild or spicy)
  • 50 grams of butter (to stir in at the end)
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
In a large pot, combine all the dry ingredients. While stirring with a large spoon, slowly add the milk and water. Stirring thoroughly in this stage will prevent lumps in a later stage and overall saves you time.
Slowly bring the mixture to the boil and keep stirring. Let all cook for about 20-30 minutes. I only cooked mine 20 minutes and was happy with the result, but as some other recipes recommend significantly longer cooking times. I have the feeling that it very much depends on the type of polenta or cornmeal you buy, so it might be worth to check the consistency of the polenta before turning the gas off. The aimed consistency is smooth and there shouldn’t be a grainy or coarse feel to it.
After turning the gas off, drop in the butter into the mixture and stir it while it melts through. This will make the polenta extra smooth.
Line two loaf tins with plastic foil, and after letting the polenta cool down a little more (to prevent the plastic lining from melting), pour it into the tins.
Use the overlap of plastic foil or more to cover the polenta.
Put the polenta away in the fridge or a cool place until it has completely cooled down and has gotten very firm. This is also the moment where you can decide to freeze your loaf until you continue to the next step.
After unwrapping the cold loaf of polenta, you’ll be able to carefully slice it into strips on a chopping board and transfer it to an oven tray, lined with baking paper.
Line the polenta chips next to each other. They will feel tender and might break. Please do not worry, as you can simply push the pieces together before baking and they will come out as one piece.
Sprinkle with the olive oil and extra salt to your liking.
Bake the chips in a moderately hot oven on 180 degrees Celsius for about 50-60 minutes.
Serve with Mayonnaise, an Ajvar-Yoghurt dip (made from equal parts Turkish spicy Ajvar and natural yoghurt), or a Dill Dip (made from creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt mixed with a chopped up bunch of dill, freshly ground pepper, flaky sea salt and a very generous splash of really good quality olive oil). Enjoy!
One note: please don’t be tempted to eat these cold (I suppose my hangry self got just what it deserved ;)).

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