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The Bowled and the Beautiful

Swap overnight oats for creamy polenta
Overnight Polenta Gives Oatmeal a Run for Its Money
Photo: Rachel Vanni/Tasting Table

If you're an overnight oats loyalist, you've already experimented with a matrix of toppings and recipes. So it's time to expand your breakfast bowl horizons and set your sights on our new morning crush: overnight polenta. Bruce Kalman, chef of Union restaurant in Pasadena and Knead & Co. in California's Grand Central Market, soaks polenta in milk for a creamy breakfast bowl that's about to make your mornings infinitely more interesting.

"The idea was to prepare the polenta the same method as preparing porridge, where you soak the oats overnight in milk and then cook them in the same milk," Kalman explains.

He tops the decadent porridge with berries and citrus segments, toasted pistachios, and a healthy drizzle of honey (see the recipe). If you're used to savory polenta, get ready to swoon over the sweet version.

What's the advantage of soaking polenta while you sleep? First off, it cuts down on cooking time. But, more importantly, it maximizes flavor. "When we tried this the first time, the results were phenomenal," Kalman says. "It was the creamiest, most flavorful polenta I've ever tasted. The corn flavor of the fresh-milled polenta is infused into the milk, which intensifies even more as it cooks."

After the overnight soaking, Kalman uses a double boiler to steam the polenta instead of applying direct heat, which diminishes the risk of burning your breakfast. New to us, this ingenious technique definitely does make the creamiest polenta we've ever had, with hardly any butter to speak of. We were shocked by the results.

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Kalman suggests using freshly milled polenta, which has a more intense corn flavor, unlike the prepackaged kind that's been on the shelf for who knows how long. While he swears by Grist & Toll, he explains that your mill of choice will likely ship directly. Finally, Kalman recommends storing freshly milled polenta in the freezer to keep it fresh.

If you prefer savory over sweet in the morning, you've got options. For breakfast, Kalman adds shaved prosciutto and a poached egg. For dinner, it could be braised short ribs and roast vegetables. Or skip the toppings altogether, because this polenta is so good it can stand on its own. Try it out tonight; thank us in the morning.

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