the life and times of J T Frey

Juliet's Fried Polenta

Once upon a time, there was a virus that scared the world so much that we were told to stay home for two months and not go anywhere. Juliet and Abby took to helping with dinner from time to time, to the point of Juliet's deciding she would make dinner one night. As a side to go with her mushroom and sausage lasagna she made (with a little help) fried polenta — but only after she found out that polenta is Italian for "grits."


  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup half-and-half
  • ½ cup yellow corn grits
  • ¼ cup parmasan cheese (freshly-grated)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • pinch of black pepper (freshly-ground)
  1. Combine water, salt, and half-and-half in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer.
  2. While whisking, add corn grits. Continue to simmer until thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and stir-in the parmasan cheese, butter, and black pepper.

At this point the polenta could be eaten immediately. To make fried polenta:

  1. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment and spray with oil. Spread the warm polenta on the parchment, keeping it uniformly 1/2" thick. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Cut the solid polenta into portions:
    • Rustic: slice the rectangle into smaller rectangles/squares, a'la brownies.
    • Fancier: use a biscuit or cookie cutter to make shaped portions.
  3. Cover the bottom of a small frying pan with olive oil (shallow, not deep!) and optionally add a tbsp of butter for flavor. When the oil is hot, place polenta portions in the oil to fry: do not crowd the portions. Turn after a few minutes to fry on the other side an equal amount of time. Remove to a paper towel to drain and sprinkle with herbs, seasonings, or more cheese. A mix of grated parmasan, more ground black pepper, garlic powder, dried basil and parsley would be nice.
  4. Serve immediately. We like to put a little tomato sauce on the plate then lay the fried polenta portion on top of the sauce.

Written by Jeff Frey on Saturday April 18, 2020
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