Fried Cornmeal and Eggs!

Junior Burger
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2004/01/26 10:31:09 (permalink)

Fried Cornmeal and Eggs!

I'm almost hesitant to share this one. Part of me doesn't want to see it overrun (it's a small, sedate place, perfect for breakfast;) and part of me just likes having a great "find" in my back pocket - 'just the thing to impress the unwitting locals when I visit.

I traveled to San Francisco on business several days a month for 16 years... and looking for a great, leisurely west-coast-breakfast (a completely different animal than we're used to on the east coast) after the demise of the legendary Doidge's, I was tipped to a place at the corner of California and Presidio, called "Ella's - Neoclassical American Cooking."

Ella's hottest selling breakfast day in and day out is the "Chicken Hash," a healthier version of the classic fried corned beef hash...and admittedly, it is quite good.

But the dish that turned my life around was a daily special curiously listed as "Fried Cornmeal and Eggs with Green Onions." What arrived were two large, soft pillows of creamy polenta, obviously chilled in a loaf just long enough to set, then sliced and browned in a pan 'til they were golden and crisped around the edges. The centers were moist and rich and studded with rounds of green onion-top. My two eggs, over-easy, were nearly crowded off the plate by their girth, and the Apple-wood smoked bacon required another small plate altogether.

Halfway through the meal I became self-conscious that my uncontrollable grin had begun attracting the attention of other diners. It was no use. I was in heaven.

The choices of breads were numerous, though I found the double-thick slices of whole wheat 'a little much' for my taste. (I like my whole wheat toast crunchy, and this was another big, soft item with a sweetness that distracted from the perfect balance of the cornmeal-and-eggs.) A better choice, I've found on (many!)subsequent visits, is the biscuit - homemade, serious, and more neutral in flavor.

One tip from experience: though you can find Fried Cornmeal and Eggs on the specials-list most weekday mornings, it's too 'high-prep' for serving the weekend crowds. Besides, you don't really want to fight a crowd to eat a meal like this and rush to get through it. (Okay, forgive me, I'm an East-Coaster displaying East Coast tendencies; California people don't tend to rush for anybody, and seem impervious to the stares of people lined up outside the window waiting for their tables.) Still and all, allow some time for this one. Have some fresh-squeezed orange juice and maybe a second cup of that dark-roasted coffee. Then go out and walk the Marina Green with a cool morning breeze blowing in through the Golden Gate. THAT's the recipe for a morning you'll remember.

8 Replies Related Threads

    Fire Safety Admin
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    RE: Fried Cornmeal and Eggs! 2004/01/26 10:37:16 (permalink)
    Bridgeman: That was an excellent write you did for your restaurant. My mother "Mamaw Smith" has made polenta which is think is the same as cornmeal mush for years. She varies the seasoning with onions, peppers, bacon and etc. She fries it or sometimes just as mush. It may be a little like the grits thing, you either like it or you do not.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    Lone Star
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    RE: Fried Cornmeal and Eggs! 2004/01/26 10:55:54 (permalink)
    Great write up - hope to hear more.

    Like the Sundancer said - sounds like good old cornmeal mush, set up sliced and fried.

    I got so hungry reading the description! Made me miss my Granny's breakfasts.
    Art Deco
    Double Cheeseburger
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    RE: Fried Cornmeal and Eggs! 2004/01/26 11:27:43 (permalink)
    Great description! At home, I tend to make mine with country ham as a side and to moisten the polenta with a bit of red-eye gravy before topping with the eggs...
    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Fried Cornmeal and Eggs! 2006/03/12 07:27:52 (permalink)
    It's Sunday morning and my day for a large breakfast. I wish I had read this post yesterday to give me a day to prep the polenta. This sounds like a winner to me. Bridgeman is a good writer, wish he would post a few more reviews from time to time. Chow Jim
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    RE: Fried Cornmeal and Eggs! 2006/03/12 09:22:18 (permalink)
    I'll just take buttered,and salted and peppered grits.
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    RE: Fried Cornmeal and Eggs! 2006/03/12 09:36:05 (permalink)
    Polenta & Egg Pies, anyone?

    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    RE: Fried Cornmeal and Eggs! 2006/03/15 12:37:47 (permalink)
    Sorry to break this to you but polenta and grits are the same thing.

    Grits are usually cooked w/ water and polenta is cooked w/ milk. Spices vary but it's the same thing...see Good Eats episode whatever.
    Junior Burger
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    RE: Fried Cornmeal and Eggs! 2006/03/15 17:28:12 (permalink)
    "Hate to break it to you, but that Omelet you're eating is really just A-A-Aiggs!"

    Sounds like you LOVED 'breaking it to us.'

    While they both may be essentially ground corn products, isn't polenta typically yellow, like corn meal, and good ol' Grits generally white, and say "Hominy" on the box? ...or has that good Quaker been pullin' my chain all these years?

    Personally, I kinda like the way different words can help you know what to expect. Gasoline, Kerosine, Vaseline... "It's ALL just Pe-TRO-le-um!"

    When I eat polenta, I expect a richer, creamer, "corn-y-er" taste.

    When I go to an Italian restaurant, I don't order Grits.

    And when I cover my eggs in Grits, I don't call it Polenta.

    'Course, YOU can call it whatever you like. :^)

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