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Cutting polenta into cutlets turns it into a delightful main dish that has a firmer texture. With a nice Four Cheese Sauce or Velvety Tomato Wine Sauce(or try a mushroom sauce or roasted red pepper sauce!) it is a perfect light dinner! Years ago, when I ate meat, I used to add leftover chopped chicken to the polenta. My husband loved it! Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook.
- 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
- 2 1⁄2 cups water
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 -2 garlic clove, minced
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground fennel
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1⁄2 cup parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
- 1 egg
- 1⁄4 cup milk
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Herbed bread crumbs
- 1⁄4 teaspoon dried herbs (like basil, oregano, thyme, and marjoram with a dash of salt and black pepper)
- To make herbed bread crumbs:.
- Pulverize stale or lightly toasted whole wheat, sourdough, or French bread in a food processor. Mix in mixed dried herbs. Set aside.
- Bring the salt and water to a boil. Gradually pour in the cornmeal and stir briskly with a whisk until the polenta begins to thicken. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring frquently until the polenta tastes done. The cooking time will vary with different cornmeals. Finely ground cornmeal might be done after just a few minutes of cooking, coarsely ground and stone ground may need to simmer for up to 45 minutes. Add more water, if needed, during cooking, until the cornmeal is no longer crunchy and the polenta is the consistency of thick porridge.
- Meanwhile, saute the onions, garlic, and ground fennel seeds in the olive oil on medium heat for about 7 minutes. Remove the cooked polenta from the heat. Stir in onions and the grated cheese(if using). Add salt to taste.
- Pour the hot polenta onto an oiled baking tray or 10" pie pan to about 3/4" thickness. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Chill for at least 30 minutes. The plenta will thicken as it cools.
- Preheat the oven to 375*F. and oil a baking sheet.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until they get foamy and then whisk in the milk. Place the bread crumbs in a separate shallow bowl. With a knife, cut the cooled polenta into squares, rectangles, diamonds, or whatever shape you like. Line up in order the pan of cutlets, egg mixture, bread crumbs and the oiled baking sheet.
- Lift one cutlet at a time with a spatula and dip it inot the egg mixture. Lightly coat the cutlet and gently shake off the excess. Then dip each cutlet in the bowl of bread crumbs and coat well. Arrange the cutlets on the baking sheet about an inch apart.
- Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown on both sides, turning once after about 20 minutes.
- To fry the cutlets, heat olive oil about 1/4" deep in a skillet and fry the cutlets for 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve immediately, or keep in a wqrm oven until ready to serve.