I love polenta, aka corn grits. I love it creamy, I love it grilled, and I especially love the leftovers pan fried. You start with some creamy polenta for dinner – use about 3 parts water to slow cooking polenta and stir until thickened, about 20 minutes. Then stir in half and half and minced chives and you have a delicious side dish for just about anything (although particularly good with a mushroom ragu over it).Spread your leftovers into a pan about an inch thick and refrigerate overnight. The next day, cut out squares or circles, and simply pan fry them until golden brown in some extra virgin olive oil. I also wanted to point out the pan I’m using for this – it’s my new nonstick pan and it’s the best one I’ve ever purchased. It’s a so-called “green” pan from BEKA and it’s wonderful when you need non stick – which isn’t often, but is important when you do. Nothing sticks in these pans and I mean nothing. (And they aren’t paying me to write about this or say this.) When you fry creamy polenta that you’ve let set up, it’s quite delicate, so nonstick was important or it would fall apart in the pan. (Didn’t I see that on Masterchef or Top Chef or Chopped?)Pan fried polenta is a great base for something else – last weekend I served it with a piece of olive oil poached halibut crusted with pistachios on top of the polenta and it was perfect. But it’s also great just as a side dish on its own. It’s comfort food to the max, yet stylish. And it has me thinking that my trip to Italy is only 6 weeks away!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Pan Fried Polenta with Chives
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 8 to 12
  • 6 cups chicken stock (or water)
  • 2 cups coarse polenta (not quick cooking)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ¼ cup minced chives
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil for frying
  1. Bring stock or water to a boil and whisk in polenta slowly so that no lumps form. Continue to whisk until it thickens to an oatmeal consistency. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook until no longer crunchy, about 20 minutes. Whisk in half and half and chives and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Spread into a sheet pan in an inch thick layer and refrigerate overnight. The next day, cut into individually sized circles or squares and pan fry in extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat until golden brown on each side and heated through.