Polenta Fries with Spicy Garlic Dipping Sauce

These "fries" are reminiscent of the panisses, or chickpea-flour fries, of Nice. Finish the polenta with grana padano instead of asiago, if you like.

Polenta Fries with Spicy Garlic Dipping Sauce
These "fries" are reminiscent of the panisses, or chickpea-flour fries, of Nice.
Yield: serves 4

For the Dipping Sauce

  • 1 large head of garlic
  • 4 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. chopped chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 12 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 12 tsp. ground cumin
  • 6 anchovy filets, rinsed
  • 4 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 13 cup canola oil
  • 13 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Polenta Fries

  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt
  • 2 cups coarse cornmeal
  • 1 cup finely shredded asiago cheese
  • 8 Tbsp. butter (1 stick), cubed
  • Canola oil

Instructions

  1. For the dipping sauce: Preheat oven to 400°. Cut off and discard top 1⁄2" of garlic head, then wrap remaining garlic in foil and bake until cloves are soft, about 1 hour. Let cool and squeeze out cloves into a small bowl.
  2. Put garlic, mustard, juices, vinegar, chiles, worcestershire, cumin, anchovies, Tabasco, and egg yolk into a food processor and blend until smooth. While motor is running, slowly pour in first the canola oil, then the olive oil, to form a smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer sauce to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
  3. For the polenta fries: Put vegetable stock and salt to taste into a heavy medium pot over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and slowly add cornmeal in a stream while whisking constantly. Cook, stirring constantly, until polenta pulls away from sides of pot and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and butter. Transfer polenta to a sheet pan and quickly shape into a 9" × 9" square. Smooth top with a rubber spatula and refrigerate, uncovered (to let dry out slightly), until chilled and set, 2–3 hours.
  4. Pour oil into a heavy medium pot to a depth of 2" and heat over medium heat until temperature registers 375° on a deep-fry thermometer. Cut polenta into twenty 1" × 4" sticks. Working with 4 polenta sticks at a time, fry without stirring until deep golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined sheet pan. (Gently separate fries if stuck together.) Serve immediately with dipping sauce on the side.