AJ Voytko, executive chef of Portland’s The Original Dinerant, invented a playful take on the Amish breakfast favorite fried cornmeal. His polenta cakes use local ingredients sourced from Bob’s Red Mill and Tillamook cheddar cheese. The only trick you need to make perfect polenta? Once the water in your pot comes to a boil, whisk in the polenta, turn the heat down low, and cook until it’s super creamy. Most people don’t allow time for polenta to fully cook, which results in a hard and raw cornmeal mush (ew). A sprinkling of honey, candied bacon bits, and grated cheese will melt your worries away and make a big bowl of TLC, so you won’t be afraid to dive in face-first.
- Yields: 4 servings
For the polenta cakes
For the candied bacon
Make the candied bacon. Preheat oven to 375°F.
Line cookie sheet with foil and lay strips of bacon on tray. Evenly cover the bacon with the brown sugar and place in the oven. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes depending on the crispiness of the bacon desired. Remove from oven and hold warm.
Make the polenta cakes. Spray a traditional loaf pan with vegetable spray or rub with vegetable oil and set aside. Place milk and water into sauce pot and place over medium-high heat. When it comes to a boil, slowly whisk in the polenta, keep whisking until polenta starts to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and cook polenta until smooth and creamy, about 6 minutes. Stir in honey. Stir in cheese and stir until all cheese has melted and has been incorporated. Season with salt. Pour polenta into loaf and smooth out the mixture. Place in the refrigerator and allow to cool overnight.
Remove polenta from the refrigerator and turn the loaf out onto a cutting board. Slice into 8 slices.
In a non-stick sauté pan pour enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, working in batches, place polenta slices into the oil and cook until crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Plate polenta and top with candied bacon and your choice of syrup. For an added touch, grate aged white cheddar or Parmesan over top.