New and Old Family Traditions

About a year ago I introduced Aaron to polenta. He had never had it and I always raved about it as a staple growing up in an Italian family. His first, and favorite, experience was braised short ribs over creamy polenta. The savory version was a hit and when I told him that as a kid we used to have the leftover polenta for breakfast he was intrigued. It always slips my mind to make extra polenta, but last week I remembered and today was the day to introduce Aaron (and all of you) to Italian French Toast.

Most of my old family breakfast recipes center around not letting anything go to waste. We have a bread recipe that is about using up stale bread. And this recipe is all about using extra polenta. Nowadays we buy the bread and let it sit out to get stale, and have to consciously make extra polenta, but the history is always remembered.

To make Italian French Toast – or fried polenta – you take plain polenta cooked with just cornmeal and water and store it in a loaf pan in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Slice the loaf into 1/2 inch slices (I pop the loaf pan into the freezer for a bit to make slicing easier). Let the slices dry between paper towels to make sure they will get as crispy a possible.


In a cast iron skillet or other pan, heat a couple tablespoons of butter. When butter is bubbling, add polenta slices. Let them get nice and crispy on one side before flipping. FLIP ONLY ONCE to make sure they don’t fall apart on you.


To serve just top with a little extra butter and powdered sugar. They turn out nice and crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. We had our Italian French Toast with chicken Italian sausage, an egg and grapes and blueberries.


Aaron gave it two thumbs up and this old family recipe is now our family’s newest recipe. The butter and powered sugar make this a weekend splurge and not an everyday breakfast, but you really can’t make this dish without both.


6 thoughts on “New and Old Family Traditions

  1. Lele says:

    That looks woooooooooonderful. Polenta is always something I love to order in restaurants but am intimidated by at home, but this looks very doable (and delicious!). What an awesome twist on french toast!

    • modernation says:

      Don’t be intimidated by polenta. It is so easy to make. Just water and cornmeal polenta, and a lot of stirring. For savory dishes I add salt, pepper and some parmesean cheese at the end, maybe a little milk. For this recipe you also can use the premade polenta at the grocery store and just slice and cook it.

  2. Mish says:

    that looks awesome. I can eat polenta 🙂 I will have to try this soon!

  3. Mama Sal was recently telling me about some sort of fried polenta appetizer but I will have to share this with her. Maybe this can be part of our annual Christmas Eve family sleepover (served for breakfast on Christmas Day).

    • modernation says:

      I see lots of recipes for fried polenta apps, often with a mushroom topping. I haven’t made those, but they sound great and if we ever have a dinner party, I might have to try it. XMAS morning polenta french toast would be yummy!

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