After eating dreamy breakfast polenta at Bather's Pavillion in Sydney, I had to make it myself. Polenta usually gets relegated to lunch or dinner, but it makes a really good breakfast porridge. So many ingredients can top the polenta... berries, pears, nuts of all sorts. And if you are wanting a less-sweet breakfast, poached eggs and aparagus would be tasty here as well.

In honor of all the apple orchards we've seen across New Zealand, I made simple, baked and buttered apples, inspired by Elizabeth David. I couldn't resist adding locally harvested hazelnuts from the Nelson Saturday Market.

If you are in need of a holiday breakfast, this belly-warming dish could easily serve a crowd.

  • 1 cup fine white polenta (not instant)
  • salt
  • 2 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, demerara or brown
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream 

In a medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat 4 cups of salted water over high heat. When the water is just shy of boiling, slowly pour in polenta while whisking continuously. Turn down heat and continue to stir until a thick porridge begins to form. Keep polenta cooking over low heat and stir occasionally. If polenta starts to appear too thick, add splashes of water as necessary. Polenta should be nice and creamy and ready to eat after about 40 minutes.

While your polenta is cooking on the stove top, preheat oven to 350.

Peel, core, and slice apples and place them in a baking dish. Dab bits of butter over the tops of the apples. Then, sprinkle sugar over everything. Toss in a lemon peel. Bake apples in the center of the oven for 20-30 minutes. They should be tender when done, but not mushy.

While the polenta and apples are cooking, heat a saute pan over medium heat. Toss in the hazelnuts and toast them up. Give the pan an occasional shake to insure toasting on all sides. (I like to roast nuts on the stove top so I can keep an eye on them.) Place the roasted nuts in a clean dish cloth and rub to remove skins. Coarsely chop and set aside.

Your polenta and apples should be just about ready at this point.

Scoop polenta into four bowls. Top with a generous scoop of warm roasted apples and chopped hazelnuts. At the table, pass around a pitcher of heavy cream, and a bowl of demerara sugar, or a little maple syrup so that everyone can make their porridge just right.

Serves 4. (This recipe can easily be doubled to feed a larger group.)
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  1. I love this recipe. I make breakfast polenta too.

  2. Call it polenta and everyone swoons.. I used to have cornmeal as a kid for breakfast, too. This looks all grown-up, though, and super tasty. :) Thanks for sharing!

  3. This sounds like the perfect polenta to start the day!!! I rarely make it sweet, mostly savory for dinner. Gorgeous photos!!!! :)

  4. I love polenta for breakfast, you can do so many things with it, and it's so comforting. Buttered apples and hazelnuts sound especially good!

    great photos, the ones with orchard and apples are my favorite :)

  5. Melaniemusings2 - glad you are a fan of polenta for breakfast too:)

    Janet, too true about the power of "polenta" - somehow it just screams comfort food.

    Jennie, thanks for the sweet comment.

    M,always great to hear from you. I hope the holidays are being good to you this year:)


  6. Gorgeous photos, looks super delicious :)


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