Have you ever been so inspired by something you’ve had at a restaurant that it sticks in your mind until you just have to make it? Yup, me too! That’s what happened when I tried the Breakfast Polenta at the Starling Diner in Long Beach, California.
To be honest, everything I tried that day was amazing! So amazing that I shared my experience in the blog post, Starling Diner! But just in case you missed it, here is their Breakfast Polenta that inspired this recipe!
I had never had polenta served warm and creamy. With Covid restrictions on trave,l I haven’t been able to get down to visit my family in Long Beach, so as soon as the cold weather set in I decided to take a day, or two, to make an attempt at Breakfast Polenta.
Chosing Your Polenta
Having never actually made polenta, I first went shopping and found two brands to try. Bob’s Red Mill has two polenta. “Southern-Style White Corn Grits also known as Polenta” made from white corn and the more traditional yellow corn meal polenta. They also have a “Gluten-Free” version of the yellow corn grits. I also found Golden Pheasant polenta, “Polenta Type Degerminated Enriched Corn Meal” at my local Safeway. I read the back of both labels. Each had a quick version and a slow cooker version. To me, it seemed I would get the best results if I used the slow and low method.
Because cornmeal does not contain wheat or gluten, carefully prepared polenta is safe for people with celiac disease. However, cross-contamination is a concern. Be certain to buy certified gluten–free cornmeal or packaged precooked polenta to ensure that it’s completely free of gluten.Wikipedia
Making Your Breakfast Polenta
I first made the white corn polenta using the instructions for the slow cooker. Basically, it’s a 3:1 ratio. Three parts liquid to one part polenta. I made sure I was home so I could check on it and stir it from time to time. It finished much faster than the back of the bag suggested. Hmmmm…
Next, I made the yellow corn using their 4:1 ratio. Now we’re talking. This obviously took longer and I was able to obtain the creamy consistency I was looking for a breakfast polenta. Looking back now, I notice that the Bob’s Red Mill package notes a 4:1 ratio for making creamy version. Silly me!
Here’s a helpful note if you are using an older crockpot like mine: My older, smaller crockpot was perfect for making recipes of this size rather than my newer, larger crockpot. The crockpot in the photo was my mother’s – it’s that old. It also doesn’t have a seal gasket like my new one, so a lot of steam can seep out. To prevent this, I folded a dish towel in half and placed it over the lid of the crockpot as it cooked.
Because the Starling Diner’s Breakfast Polenta also contained a layer of creme anglaise, I made that the day before and had it ready and chilled in the fridge. If you’ve never made creme anglaise before, it’s like melted ice cream, but better. It definitely takes this breakfast polenta to the next level. This is the easiest recipe I have tried for making it that you will wonder why you’ve never done it before! It is fabulous on so many desserts, gingerbread, slices of pie or just straight off the spoon!
Serving Your Breakfast Polenta
Finally, before assembling my Breakfast Polenta, I used the remaining whipping cream from making my creme anglaise to make fresh whipped cream. It’s not hard peeps! Basically add the whipping cream to a bowl, set your beaters to 6-7 and whip. Sprinkle in as little or as much sugar and a splash of vanilla extract to taste.
Now layer! Polenta, warm and creamy, next creme anglaise, a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with some fresh berries!
Reheating your polenta? If you made a big batch and are reheating left-overs or you made your polenta the day before and want it ready for Christmas Morning you can do this several ways and I have added those to the recipe card below.
Enjoy your Breakfast Polenta!
Breakfast Polenta with Creme Anglaise
- 1 cup polenta
- 2 cups milk Optional, use water or milk alternative
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- ½ cup whipped cream homemade or store bought
- 1 cup fresh berries rinsed and chopped
- 1 cup creme anglaise see recipe below
- ⅔ cup whole milk
- ⅔ cup 35% whipping cream I used Dairygold
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 1 vanilla bean sliced & seeds removed
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- Place polenta, milk, water and salt into a slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 1-1½ hours. Checking and stirring every 30-45 minutes depending on your crockpot.
- Serve directly from your crockpot or if serving later, remove and place in airtight container allowing to cool before covering and refrigerating until serving. See reheat directions below.
Creating Your Breakfast Polenta
- Place serving of warmed polenta into a small bowl.
- Add a layer of creme anglaise. Add a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle with fresh berries. Enjoy!
- Place milk, cream, vanillas and 2 Tbsp of the sugar in a heavy bottomed pot. Gently bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, remove from the heat to let the vanilla flavors infuse the cream.
- Place egg yolks into a large bowl and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Whisk together for a few minutes until they have thickened and paled.
- Add a little of the vanilla milk to the eggs to temper them, whisk to combine. Slowly add the remaining vanilla milk and continue to whisk until combined.
- Pour the mixture back into the pot and return to low heat. Gently reheat, stirring constantly. After 3-4 minutes it will start to thicken slightly. Remove the sauce as soon as it coats the back of a spoon and running a finger through it doesn't disappear. Do not cook longer as the eggs may start to scramble.
- Strain through a sieve if needed into an airtight container. Refrigerate up to 5 days. Serve cold or reheat on low to warm.