This is one of my new favorite recipes. It is from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classic cookbook. (I have only changed the original slightly by omitting ground fennel.) I served these with potato parsnip gratin, green beans and a salad. The kids chose to dip them in ketchup (big surprise), and I found they were great as leftovers too.
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup cornmeal or dried polenta
1 cup chopped onions
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
1/4 cup milk
1 cup herbed bread crumbs
(to make your own breadcrumbs pulverize stale or lightly toasted whole wheat, sourdough, or french bread in a blender or food processor. Mix in 1/4 teaspoon of mixed dried herbs, such as basil, oregano, thyme, and marjoram, and add a dash of salt and black pepper)
1. 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 heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the polenta tastes done.
2. Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in the oil on medium heat for about 7 minutes. Remove the cooked polenta from the heat. Stir in the onion/garlic mixture, and if using , the cheese. Add salt to taste.
3. Pour the hot polenta onto an oiled baking tray or 10 inch pie pan to about 3/4 inch thick. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The polenta will thicken as it cools. *Side note - Polenta can be refrigerated for 3-4 days so you could always do this step one day and finish the dish another.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
5. In a large bowl, whisk the egg until foamy and then whisk in the milk. Place the bread crumbs in a separate shallow bowl. With a table knife, cut the cooled polena into squares, rectangles, diamonds, or other shapes. Line up in order the pan of cutlets, the egg mixture, the bread crumbs, and the oiled baking sheet.
6. Lift one cutlet at a time with a spatula and dip it into the egg mixture. A light coating of egg is best, so gently shake off the excess. Then dip each cutlet in the bowl of bread crumbs and coat well. Arrange the breaded cutlets on the baking sheet about one inch apart.
7. Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown on both sides, turning once after about 20 minutes.