Polenta French Toast

For me, growing up in an Italian family, polenta was always a savory dish and served exclusively in one of two ways: soft-style with red sauce or soft-style with Italian sausage. Go figure ;-) Until last year, that was the extent of my experience with the Italian version of grits, and while delicious, I was happy to start branching out and experimenting with other ways to enjoy the cornmeal dish. My first attempt at a sweet variety of polenta was Vanilla & Brown Sugar Breakfast Polenta, which is an unbelievable way to start the day. Sweet and porridge-like, it’s a great alternative to oatmeal when you are in the mood for something different. I then moved on to Polenta Pizza, which uses polenta as a crust that you can top with vegetables, your favorite pizza toppings, or anything your heart desires. It’s awesome as a main dish or cut into squares for appetizers.

Continuing my quest to make new and different dishes using polenta, this version of French toast immediately caught my attention. And then it subsequently won over my taste buds.

This is pretty much like breakfast polenta, part II. A batch of sweetened polenta is prepared and then instead of eating it hot right then (which you could totally do, and save the leftovers for a smaller batch of this French toast!), you spread it into a pan (I used a 9×13) and let it firm up in the fridge overnight. This version of sweetened polenta uses maple syrup instead of brown sugar and is flavored with orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg. I think the combination of orange zest and cinnamon really makes this, and I would definitely include both (especially the orange zest!). Dipping the triangles in flour allows the pieces to develop a nice crisp crust while in the pan, which is a great contrast to the soft and smooth texture of the inside.

Polenta French Toast - Prep

I served this with maple syrup, berries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Top yours with your favorite French toast adornments, and enjoy a delicious twist on a breakfast favorite!

Polenta French Toast

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes (active), 8 hours (inactive)

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

For the Polenta:
6½ cups water
½ teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups cornmeal
½ cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Grated zest of 1 orange
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup milk

For the French Toast:
½ cup flour (corn, semolina or all-purpose)
Butter (for frying)

Directions:

1. Make the polenta: Bring water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add cornmeal in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring often, until mixture begins to thicken, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring often, for about 30 minutes.

2. Whisk in the syrup, cinnamon, orange zest, nutmeg and milk. Cook for another 30 minutes. Spread polenta into a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, and let cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

3. Make the French toast: Cut the cold polenta into squares and cut each square into two triangles. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and melt about 2 tablespoons of butter per four triangles. Toss the polenta squares with flour, dusting off excess. Add to the pan and cook, turning, until golden brown on all sides. Serve with maple syrup, powdered sugar, and fruit.

(Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living, April 2009)

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35 Responses to “Polenta French Toast”

  1. Eliana on May 20, 2010 at 12:20 am

    What a genius idea for polenta. I love it!

    Reply

  2. The Housewife on May 20, 2010 at 2:37 am

    Never would have thought of using polenta for french toast! What a novel idea!

    Reply

  3. notyet100 on May 20, 2010 at 5:01 am

    delicious this looks..

    Reply

  4. Penny Wolf on May 20, 2010 at 6:50 am

    I love corn products…period. I am getting a kick out of you as you discover these ways with polenta. :) My Mom called this fried mush. We pour the cooked meal into a bread pan and sliced it after setting up over night. She had always used cornmeal and then I made it for her using polenta. We really liked how it fried up being a finer grind than the cornmeal.
    I love your site and you really inspire me to keep cooking!
    Thank you!

    Reply

  5. Katrina on May 20, 2010 at 6:51 am

    I like your thinking. Not only is this a new way to make polenta, but it’s a new way to make french toast! Amazing.

    Reply

  6. Giulia on May 20, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Hi!
    I’m Italian, and I’m a good follower of your recipes. Living in Northern Italy, Polenta is our greatest food tradition. We always have it on Sundays, when our family gathers. =)
    thanks for sharing this recipe…I’ll definitely try it someday!

    Reply

  7. bunkycooks on May 20, 2010 at 8:13 am

    What an interesting way to prepare polenta! Most breakfast foods are pretty tasty with maple syrup on them!

    Reply

  8. Heather Lilly on May 20, 2010 at 9:08 am

    This looks like it will be one of my new favorites! (My husband is Italian, so he’ll be excited to try this one, too!) :)

    Reply

  9. roxan on May 20, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I’ve been looking forward to this entry since you first mentioned it. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    Reply

  10. Skylar on May 20, 2010 at 10:36 am

    What a unique use for polenta! I really want to try this, thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  11. Maria on May 20, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Creative! Love it!

    Reply

  12. Chocolate and Toast on May 20, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Yum! I just jumped on the fresh-made polenta bandwagon recently, so I will definitely be taking a tour through your polenta related archives! I just posted a savory polenta dish with sausage and mozzarella yesterday–like lasagna, without the noodles. Addiction now forming.

    Reply

  13. Mackenzie @ The Caramel Cookie on May 20, 2010 at 11:03 am

    What a great way to use up my polenta! Love it!

    Reply

  14. C and C Dish on May 20, 2010 at 11:04 am

    I’ll have to give this a try, thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  15. Julia on May 20, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Delicious! I love using polenta in non-traditional ways, especially if it involves maple syrup!

    Reply

  16. Jen @ How To: Simplify on May 20, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    What a great dish to serve for breakfast…or dinner!

    Reply

  17. Kristen on May 20, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    What a unique idea!

    Reply

  18. Cookin' Canuck on May 20, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    What an innovative way to use polenta. I have become rather fond of polenta over the past couple of years, so I’m excited to have a way to incorporate it into breakfast now.

    Reply

  19. Food Lover on May 20, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    yummy, I LOVE maple syrup with desserts :)

    Reply

  20. Tracy on May 20, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Yum, how different and fun! Love it!

    Reply

  21. Julie M. on May 20, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    What a different idea for breakfast. This looks really tasty!

    Reply

  22. Magic of Spice on May 20, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    How unique! Sounds wonderful:)

    Reply

  23. ivoryhut on May 21, 2010 at 12:29 am

    I would have never thought of using polenta this way, but it’s genius! Love the idea.

    Reply

  24. Christina on May 21, 2010 at 1:11 am

    This is such a great idea! I love fried cornmeal mush for breakfast, but this version sounds epic.

    Reply

  25. Fuji Mama on May 21, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    This is such an awesome idea! It’s one of those ideas that is so simple you wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself! YUM!

    Reply

  26. maggy on May 21, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    What a fantastic idea! So different, and it looks DELICIOUS :)

    Reply

  27. Susan/Wild Yeast on May 27, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Love it!

    Reply

  28. Ashley on May 30, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Wow I’ve never seen anything like this! I can imagine how delicious it is.

    Reply

  29. Foodlvr on June 7, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I never thought of making French toast with polenta. What a genius idea. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Reply

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  31. Angie on March 7, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    This is AMAZING! We are gluten and dairy free and my kids are thrilled to have french toast back on their breakfast menu! I subbed unsweetened vanilla almond milk and added one teaspoon of vanilla at the end of cooking, just before pouring into the 9×13. I can’t get over how great this is!

    Thank you!

    Reply

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