These polenta-Gorgonzola sticks are delicious at any time of the year. But, they’re especially perfect in the fall when temperatures begin to dip. Enjoy them as an appetizer, a side dish, or a snack. Making them can be a little time-consuming, but don’t be put off by that. The effort is well worth it. You can also prepare them a day or two in advance, then reheat them in the oven at 350°F. Because these sticks require frying, be sure to turn on your range hood fan. Any grease and smoke will be exhausted to the outdoors, so you won’t have to look forward to hours of scrubbing down the walls!
Deep-Fried Polenta-Gorgonzola Sticks
- 1 1/4 lb spinach
- 1/4 lb Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup polenta (coarsely ground yellow cornmeal)
- 2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 lb ball of mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- Rinse the spinach, making sure that all dirt is removed. If using frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Cook spinach in a pan set over medium-low heat until wilted, about 4 minutes. Drain away any liquid that the spinach expels. Chop spinach and place in a bowl. Add the crumbled Gorgonzola, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Toss and taste for seasoning. Set aside.
- For the polenta, combine water, stock and salt in a large pot. Heat until it reaches a simmer. Pour polenta slowly into the simmering water, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low. Continue to cook and stir until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan, about 20 minutes. Stir in the butter and Parmesan. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Rinse a 6×9 inch pan with water and shake out the excess. Using a spatula dipped in hot water (do this every time the polenta starts to stick to the spatula), spread half of the polenta into the pan. Distribute the polenta evenly along the bottom of the pan. Spread the spinach onto the polenta. Lay the mozzarella slices over top the spinach filling. Pour the remaining polenta over the filling making sure it is evenly distributed over all the filling. Cover with a towel, and let rest in the fridge for between 2 and 24 hours.
- Cut the polenta into 1×3 inch slices. Heat oil in a large pot to about 4 inches deep. Oil should be about 375°F. Place flour into a bowl, and egg and water into another bowl. Stir egg and water until evenly combined. Place bread crumbs into a third bowl. Dip polenta slices, one at a time, into first the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally into the bread crumbs. Shake off excess coating before moving polenta sticks from bowl to bowl. Carefully place polenta sticks into the hot oil. Deep fry until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat until all polenta sticks have been coated and fried. Serve as is or with a tomato sauce dip.