Boil the water and salt in a small saucepan. Stir in the polenta, chopped rosemary, and thyme while whisking constantly, and cook until the water is all absorbed and the polenta is cooked and very thick, about 5-8 minutes. Stir frequently while cooking.
Line a loaf pan or an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper (this will help with cleanup). Pour the cooked polenta into the pan and use a spatula get all of it out of the sauce pan and to even it out on top in the loaf pan. Cover with more parchment paper, gently pressing the parchment paper to the top of the polenta.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge for at least 1.5-2 hours, or until fully chilled, even in the center.
Remove from the fridge, carefully transfer the block of polenta onto a cutting board, and slice into French fry-shaped pieces.
Air fryer instructions
Preheat air fryer to 350F, if your air fryer requires preheating. Arrange the polenta pieces on the air fryer tray and spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Air fry at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt, allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with your favorite dipping sauce (see notes below).
Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and brush or spray with oil.
Arrange the polenta pieces on the oil-sprayed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until crispy on the edges. Sprinkle with sea salt, allow to cool for a couple of minutes, and serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce (see notes for ideas).
Try adding ½ teaspoon garlic powder and/or onion powder to the water when cooking the polenta.
Try using vegetable stock or chicken broth instead of water to add more flavor to the polenta (skip the salt or reduce the salt is using salted broth!).
Stir in ½ - 1 cup shredded Parmesan after the polenta is cooked.
Try stirring in a 1-2 tablespoons of butter into the water or stock for a richer flavor.
Time saving tip: You can cook the polenta and have it chill in the fridge for up to 1-2 days before baking. Gently press parchment paper or plastic wrap on top of the polenta so it doesn't form a hard crust.
Dipping sauce ideas: garlic aioli, ketchup + mayo with a few drops of sriracha, tartar sauce, BBQ sauce.