My dear friend Christopher knows how much I love oatmeal (and so do many of you, based on how often I post about it). He sent me great recipe for Breakfast Polenta, which is still in the “hot breakfast cereal” vein. I’ve made polenta several times before as a dinner side dish, but I always used savory ingredients. I was very curious to see how it would taste with a sweet twist.
Although you can use any kind of polenta you’d like (except quick cooking), I went with the recipe author’s choice and bought a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Polenta. (I was surprised when the bag was labeled primarily as “corn grits” and secondarily as “polenta.”) I was initially a bit confused because the package directions said to cook the polenta for about 5 minutes to make a breakfast cereal, though the Breakfast Polenta recipe (and a side-dish recipe on the back of the package) called for 30 minutes of cooking time. My initial instinct was to save time and follow the standard package directions, so that’s exactly what I did the first time around. The following Saturday, I took the full half hour to follow the recipe.
There was no comparison.
The polenta cooked according to package directions was fine, but it was very much what one probably imagines when they think of corn grits – a bit coarse with a strong corn flavor. I was unimpressed. The Breakfast Polenta recipe, on the other hand, was creamy with a milder flavor and my sweet toppings blended in nicely. Here’s what I did when I did it the right way. 🙂
I brought 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan and then stirred in 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of polenta. I continued to stir every couple of minutes until the polenta had cooked for a total of 30 minutes. The author says to add water if the polenta becomes too thick or dry; I added 1/4 cup at 20 minutes and another 1/4 cup at 25 minutes. In the end, it was thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but not so thick that it held any shape.
I dished out individual servings for Dr. O and me and topped the polenta with dried cherries, toasted almonds, honey, and milk.
This was creamy, comforting, and a nice change of pace from my usual oatmeal. As the recipe author mentions, this could be good for a do-it-yourself breakfast bar. She recommends toppings like toasted nuts, berries, dried fruit, syrup, eggs, herbs, or sun-dried tomatoes.
TIPS: Polenta definitely spurts while it cooks. I loosely covered my pot with foil, leaving about 1 inch exposed on one side of the pot, to help prevent some of the mess.
Don’t be alarmed if your leftover polenta congeals as it cools. This is normal. If you’ve ever seen pre-made polenta in the grocery store, it’s usually a semi-soft log wrapped in plastic. It’s easily sliced, which is especially handy when making treats like these if you don’t want to make your polenta from scrach.
Recipe link: Breakfast Polenta