Deep Fried Polenta
(or You-Know, You-Know Crostini)
Crostini are wonderful eaten plain or with antipasti. Imagine them served alongside roasted game or fowl. Or as an appetizer with fresh sautéed wild mushrooms.
4 cups water
1 cup course-grained cornmeal
Salt to taste
Olive oil for deep frying plus extra for greasing
Grease a baking sheet with olive oil.
Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat. When water is just simmering begin adding the cornmeal in a thin stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. It must be a wooden spoon. Preferably without a curse on it. Of course, the seriousness of the curse depends on the ethnic background of your neighbors. Are they experienced in giving you the evil eye? Keep stirring. The constant stirring with the wooden spoon is necessary in preventing lumps from forming. Stir for about 20 minutes until all the cornmeal is added.
Pour polenta immediately into a sheet pan. Spread it out, making sure it’s not more than ½-inch thick. Smooth the top. Chill at least 1 hour.
Cut into diamond shapes. They should be about 2.5 inches long by 2 inches wide. Use a ruler if you have to. Isn’t this fun?! If they are all perfectly the same you are not Italian.
Heat oil in a deep skillet until you see ripples. If you have never deep-fried before, don’t be afraid, but I’ll warn you now—it’s awful to clean the stovetop after deep-frying. Gently drop the polenta diamonds into the oil, a few at a time. They are done when they appear transparent yellow and crusty on both sides.
Transfer carefully to several layers of paper towels to drain. Serve them when still warm but not burning hot.
Hide any extras. Then sneak to the kitchen late at night or early in the morning and eat the leftovers slightly warmed with jam. It’s absolutely acceptable not to share with anyone else. Especially if you cleaned the stovetop.