Pan Fried Polenta with Braised Leeks

Polenta is such a delightful comfort food no matter how it’s prepared. But when it’s fried to perfection, that’s when it’s at its best, and this Pan Fried Polenta with Braised Leeks is no exception.

Preparing polenta in this manner is a wonderful way to enjoy this classic northern Italian dish in a way that makes it feel new and exciting. Just imagine, a pot of freshly prepared polenta that’s packed with a delicate combination of Parmesan and Gruyere cheese, butter, and salt. This flavorful dish is then chilled, cut, and pan fried into the most delicious, crispy, warm, triangles.

Pan Fried Polenta with Braised Leeks paired with La Crema Monterey Chardonnay

Now even though fried polenta is incredibly tasty on its own, I wanted to incorporate some other elements that would enhance the whole dish. This is when I decided to try braising some leeks to explore how their aromatic flavor would interact with the creamy butteriness of the polenta. Thankfully, they worked flawlessly with one another! And voilà Pan Fried Polenta with Braised Leeks! Cheesy tanginess is complemented by oniony sweetness, and the crisp texture of the polenta is complemented by the tender, yet flavor-packed leeks.

As a final touch, I garnished this wonderful array of flavors with some delectable bacon. Its honeyed smokiness with its salty char lends a welcomed layer of depth to an already incredible appetizer. Now this dish isn’t really complete until the wine is served. I found that La Crema’s Monterey Chardonnay was the perfect accompaniment. Its vibrant notes of crisp pineapple and bright citrus provided a wonderful balance to this rich dish.

Pan Fried Polenta with Braised Leeks

Pan Fried Polenta with Braised Leeks

If this recipe is calling your name then I have a few tips to ensure that your frying process is pain-free.

When making this recipe I highly recommend using a non-stick skillet. This isn’t necessary, but it will make the whole process much easier. Also note that the polenta can become pretty delicate during the frying process, so I suggest you try frying a few at a time. And lastly, be careful. The oil does seems to jump out of the pan a bit while frying, so take it slow. I fully believe that this fried polenta would taste great with anything, but if you want to try my braised leeks then click here to get the recipe.

Seared Polenta with Braised Leeks

Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: serves about 5


  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or veggie stock
  • ½  cup milk
  • ¼ plus ⅛  table salt
  • 1/2 cup polenta
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter
  • 3 tbs freshly grated gruyere cheese
  • 3 tbs freshly grated parmesan cheese


  1. Lightly grease an 8×8 dish by greasing; set aside.
  2. Add the chicken stock, milk, and salt to a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Once boiling, gradually add in the polenta while whisking constantly. Continue whisking the polenta until it has thickened; reduce heat to low.
  3. Continue to cook the polenta at low heat for an additional 15-20 minutes, making sure to stir about every 5 minutes or so. Once the polenta is very thick, remove the saucepan from heat,  add the butter, both cheeses, and mix until smooth.
  4. Pour the polenta into the prepared dish 8×8 dish. Smooth the top with a spatula to create an even layer. If the polenta begins to sticks to  the spatula, simply wipe it with a bit of oil. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours, or until firm and fully chilled.
  5. Use a spatula to loosen the edges and carefully un-mold the polenta. Cut the polenta into 4 equal sized squares. Then cut an X into each square creating 4 triangles, 16 total; set aside.
  6. Add 1 tbs oil to a non-stick skillet set over over medium heat and pan fry each side for about 3 minutes, or until golden and warmed through.
  7. Top with seared leeks, and a light garnish of chopped bacon and fresh parsley.

Pan Fried Polenta with Braised Leeks