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Polenta Croutons

July 12, 2011

I love it when you find recipes that are gluten-free, but are not labeled as gluten-free substitutes because I think that most substitutes fall short in the texture department.  This recipe isn’t labeled as “gluten-free!” and can definitely stand on it’s own. Giada de Laurentiis uses these as a component to her Caesar salad.  They can be made ahead and stored in the fridge – which is not a bad idea because they’re a little time consuming to make.  I followed Giada’s basic recipe, but mixed in some Italian herbs and a little garlic paste to my polenta before I put it in the refrigerator to cool.

Polenta Croutons

3 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a heavy large saucepan. Add salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the butter, and stir until melted.

Lightly oil a half sheet pan. Transfer the hot polenta to the prepared baking dish, spreading evenly to 3/4-inch thick. Refrigerate until cold and firm, about 2 hours.

Cut the polenta into 3/4-inch cubes. Pat the polenta cubes dry with paper towels. Add enough vegetable oil to a heavy large frying pan to come 1-inch up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil over high heat. Working in batches of 10, carefully add the polenta cubes to the oil 1 at a time and fry until golden brown, stirring to keep the cubes separate, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the polenta croutons to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil.

These turned out picture perfect, but I should have fried them another minute longer – or popped them in the oven for a few minutes after they were fried.  After they cooled they were not quite as crunchy as I wanted them to be.  Next time!

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