Measure the 1/2 cup cornmeal into large bowl. Pour boiling water over; stir in shortening and salt.
Combine warm water and molasses in 1-cup liquid measure. Sprinkle yeast over top; stir to dissolve yeast. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add yeast mixture and half of flour to cornmeal mixture. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Add egg and remaining flour; beat 1 minute (dough will be very sticky).
Cover dough with oiled wax paper. Let rise in warm place, away from drafts, until doubled in volume, for about 1 hour.
Grease two 8-inch round layer-cake pans.
With floured hands, punch dough down. On floured board, roll dough into 18-inch-long rope. With floured knife, cut dough into 18 equal pieces. With floured hands, shape each into ball. Arrange half of balls in each cake pan. For Topping if using, mix together cornmeal and salt. Sprinkle over rolls.
Cover each pan with oiled wax paper. Let rise in warm place, away from drafts, until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Bake rolls in preheated 375 degree F oven 15 minutes until golden brown. Lightly brush tops with melted butter. Makes 18 rolls.