Weekend-Style: Fried Polenta and Poached Eggs

Rise and shine? Yeah, right.

Around here, “creep and grumble” is more realistic.

Anyone who greets the morning with open arms, brimming with energy and cheerfully anticipating another beautiful day is a little crazy, in my book. Sleep is the best, and anything that forces you out of it is the worst. Thus, chirpiness before 10am will only get you skeptical, groggy stares and inarticulate mumbling in this house.

 Caffeine, please. We are not real yet.

And please, do not tell me that if I only ate better or exercised more or got into yoga…that I’d somehow see the light and start running 10ks before sunrise and eating hearty, protein-intensive breakfasts. Ain’t gonna happen. Two in the morning is always going to feel like a more appropriate time to go jogging or eat eggs.

What I’m getting at is that breakfast and I don’t really jive.

Don’t get me wrong: eggs are great. Muffins are better. Orange juice is refreshing and pancakes with a cascade of syrup are a treat. Just not before 10:30am, thanks.

Okay, so we get it, Amy. You don't like breakfast. Why are we still talking about it, then?

Okay, so we get it, Amy. You don’t like breakfast. Why are we still talking about it, then?

For the next few weeks, we’ll be focusing on breakfast here, running the gamut from simple one-person endeavors to crowd-friendly weekend indulgences. Some things will be healthy; some things decidedly not. Most things are vegetarian. Everything is worth leaving your warm bed for.

Promise.

Today we’re going to talk about fried polenta and poached eggs, and how Sriracha makes everything amazing.

First, polenta:

Unless you like grits, there’s a good chance you’re not a fan of polenta. I get it. We’ve all eaten that flavorless pre-made stuff in a tube, and heard horror stories about babysitting it on the stove if you dare to cook your own. I’m here to tell you that polenta is not hard to cook. Can you boil water? Whisk a pot every few minutes? Good. Then you can cook polenta. The Kichn has a great starter recipe if you’ve never made it before.

Here, we’ll fry up slabs of leftover polenta, but don’t underestimate the potential of creamy just-made polenta with a handful of cheddar, either. So good.

Second, poached eggs:

Poached eggs are another item on the list of foods everyone is scared to cook. I would know because I am afraid of them, too. One failed attempt resulting in egg drop soup instead of silky, sunshine-oozing goodness is enough to turn anyone off poaching for good.

Good thing I have a husband for these things.

You see, back in the day when we were first married, J took it upon himself to learn to poach eggs. We’d pry ourselves out of bed on Sunday mornings, rumpled and giggly, and he’d go through the impressive ceremony of poaching: a splash of vinegar, a flourish with the spoon, and the heart-in-your-throat moment watching the egg slide into the water, earnestly praying that the center would indeed hold. In those moments I was reminded that J was a keeper.

What I didn’t know was that he learned to poach eggs from Deb’s recipe over at Smitten Kitchen. Fortunately, that secret has come out over the years and I’m happy to share her technique with you here, and hopefully dispel any poaching-related phobias you may be harboring.

Third, Sriracha:

Short and sweet here, since this one is a no-brainer. Sriracha makes an appearance at our breakfast table every time we dig into eggy, cheesy, or spud-based dishes. We adore its sweet, layered heat and vibrant pop of color to wake up the senses.

So that’s it for our first breakfast:

Cook polenta. Poach eggs. Top with a squirt of Sriracha (and maybe some bacon) and that’s it. Enjoy with coffee and grudgingly consider that mornings might not be so awful after all.

Fried Polenta and Poached Eggs
This is my favorite use for leftover polenta. If you make it for dinner the night before with a dreamy ragu or a heavenly wine-and-mushroom concoction on top, spread the extra polenta on a cookie sheet and pop it in the fridge when you're cleaning up. In the morning you can chop it into pieces and fry for round two of polenta goodness.
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Ingredients
  1. bacon, if you want
  2. prepared polenta, cooled and chopped into the shapes of your choice (I do 2" x 1" strips)
  3. oil, for frying (rendered fat from cooking bacon is perfect)
  4. grated cheddar
  5. eggs
  6. vinegar
  7. water
  8. salt & pepper
  9. Sriracha or another hot sauce, for serving
Instructions
  1. Splash a Tbsp. or so of oil into a frying pan and set over medium heat. When hot, add polenta pieces and fry undisturbed for about 3 minutes. (Do multiple batches rather than crowding the pan; you'll need room to flip them.) When a golden crust begins to form on the bottom, flip with a spatula and fry and additional 2 minutes until cooked on the other side. Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  2. Bring a small pan of water to a simmer and add a small splash of vinegar. Crack an egg into a ramekin and have at the ready. When water is hot, use a spoon to swirl into a vortex. Bring your egg very close to the water's surface and ease it into the center of the vortex in one motion. Swirl the water a bit more with your spoon to wrap up any loose strands of egg white, and simmer 3-4 minutes for perfection.
  3. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and pat dry with a paper towel. If you're making multiple eggs, set your first under foil on a warm plate.
  4. Assemble: Stack a few pieces of polenta on a plate, top with a poached egg and a sprinkle of cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Apply Sriracha liberally (or not, as you please), and enjoy.
Wooden Spoon Baking http://www.woodenspoonbaking.com/