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Cornmeal Grissini with Fennel

Ease of Preparation: Moderate

Preparation Time: 20 min
1 hr to rise

Cook Time: 18-20 min

Servings: 20

Recipe By: Meredith Deeds and Carla Snyder

From:  The Big Book of Appetizers
Used with permission of Chronicle Books

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Cornmeal Grissini with Fennel

Grissini are thin, crisp Italian breadsticks. Our fennel-scented version has a decidedly American twist with the addition of cornmeal, which gives them extra crunch. They're surprisingly easy to make because instead of forming individual snakes to make the sticks, you simply pat the dough into a rectangle, cut it into strips, and gently pull at either end to the desired length.

1 cup lukewarm water
1 package (1 tablespoon) {active dry yeast}
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1/4 cup olive oil, plus additional for brushing the dough
 kosher salt, for sprinkling
In small bowl, stir together the warm water, yeast, and sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Stir together the flour, cornmeal, sea salt, and fennel seed in a large bowl, then stir in the yeast mixture and 1/4 cup oil just until a dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil two large baking sheets.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto an unfloured work surface. Pat into a 14x10-inch rectangle. Cut crosswise into 1/2 inch wide strips. Holding a strip with your fingers at each end, gently pull the strip to about 14 inches long. Place lengthwise on the oiled baking sheet, about 3/4 inch apart.

Brush the sticks lightly with oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.

Bake in the upper and lower thirds of oven, switching the position of the sheets halfway through baking, until the sticks are crisp and the ends are golden, 18 to 20 minutes total. Transfer to racks to cool.
Chef Suggestions
Grissini keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.
Nutrition Facts
As prepared, each serving contains 120 calories, 4.5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 410mg sodium, 17g total carbohydrate and 2g protein.

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