Do you know which cheese can hide a small horse?

Mascarpone.

HA.

I do enjoy good cheese–be it of the edible variety or the joke variety. One of my favorite memories growing up was going to Friendly’s with my grandparents. I would get mozzarella sticks, clam chowder, kid’s chicken fingers and fries, and an ice cream sundae which I would only eat the Reese’s Pieces from. It was a special treat. It was full of cheese and crunch and salt and all the stuff that I didn’t usually get to eat.

Looking back, that’s a ridiculous dinner for a kid to have, but there you have it. It wasn’t an every day dinner, it was a special grandparents dinner. As a kid, I think my favorite part was the fried mozzarella sticks. There is something so much fun about being able to pick up your food, and  dunk it, and bite into it (while possibly bringing forth a long string of cheese in the process).

So, I decided to attempt to make those sticks at home. Only baked, not fried, and perhaps a bit healthier, and not so much stick shaped as chicken nugget shaped. I mean, they aren’t going to be that much healthier, it is still a hunk of straight up breaded cheese.

If you can’t indulge every now and then, what’s the point?

I substituted cornmeal for the panko in the original recipe (not only because I wanted to try it, but also because I had no panko…). It lends a really nice crunch, but feel free to change that, or mix half cornmeal and half panko. I also seasoned the flour bath with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I wanted each step to have significant flavor.

Oven Baked Crispy Mozz
Adapted from The Gunny Sack
7Ingredients

1/2 ball mozzarella, cut oval slices about 1/4 in thick
1/2 c cornmeal
1/2 c Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
marinara or pizza sauce
1
Method
    1. Put equal amounts of cornmeal and Italian bread crumbs to a bowl and mix together.
    2. Beat together 2 eggs and a little milk with a fork.
    3. Put flour in a third bowl and season with salt and pepper and the garlic powder.
    4. Roll each piece of cheese in the flour mixture. 2
    5. Dip the flour coated cheese in the egg mixture3 and then coat with the bread crumb mixture.4
    6. Place mozzarella slices in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Do not skip this step, or your cheese will oooooze all over your pan, rather than get crisped up. 5
    7. Remove the mozzarella sticks from the freezer and place them on a baking sheet. Melt butter and drizzle it over the mozzarella sticks.
    8. Bake in a preheated 400°F for about 8-10 minutes.
    9. Dip mozzarella nuggets in marinara or pizza sauce or ketchup or BBQ, or whatever strikes your fancy. 6
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