Creamy Polenta with Braised Greens and Poached Eggs

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I just love, love a poached egg. I only discovered the heaven of a runny yolk as an adult — I grew up eating hard-boiled and fried eggs with the yolks broken. Wow, was I missing out. I am a big fan of eggs at lunch and dinner, not just breakfast. They are super versatile and easy — and have you tried one on a burger? Yum.

I found this recipe upon returning from a two-week trip in Europe, with the joy and guilt of frequent four-course lunches and excessive butter/cream/cheese/wine consumption hanging over my head. Which is not to say there is not cheese and whole milk in this dish, because there is. But its simplicity appealed, as did the absence of meat and the inclusion of some dark greens (vegetables!). I found it in an old Food & Wine magazine, it’s a Bobby Flay recipe.

And did I mention it’s delicious? The polenta is nice and cheesy, the greens spiked with garlic and onion and red wine vinegar, and all topped with an awesome, spicy chile oil and of course a poached egg. So many great flavors happening. Just break the yolk up and stir up all the goodness together.

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TW’s Tips

  • I’m pretty certain the polenta I had in the cupboard was instant, and this recipe calls for the regular (non-instant) type. By all means though, use instant — it’s quicker and easier. Just don’t start it until everything is nearly done as it cooks really quickly.
  • Poaching an egg is an art. I found that 3-3 1/2 minutes was more like it for the cook time, to ensure a runny yolk (but I was poaching them one by one versus four in the same pot). Play around with it.
  • Poach enough eggs for the number of servings you’re preparing, and for leftovers, reheat the polenta and greens in the micro and poach the egg so it’s fresh.
  • The polenta needed a bit more salt.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the chili oil:

  • 1/4 cup stemmed and finely chopped Tutto Calabria hot long red chile peppers, or hot cherry peppers
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

For the polenta:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup polenta or stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

For the braised greens:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 pounds mustard greens, ribs removed, leaves chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

For the egg:

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving

Directions

Make the chile oil: Combine the chopped chiles, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan over low heat and cook 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate up to 1 week. (You will have about 1 1/4 cups chile oil.)

Cook the polenta: Bring 3 cups cold water, the milk, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Gradually whisk in the polenta; whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often, until tender and thickened but still creamy, about 30 minutes. Add more hot water as needed if the mixture seems too dry. Stir in the butter and cheese.

Meanwhile, make the braised greens: Heat the olive oil in a large high-sided saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the greens, season with salt and pepper and toss. Reduce the heat to medium, stir in 1 cup water, cover and cook until wilted and soft, about 20 minutes. Remove the lid during the last 5 minutes to cook off any additional liquid. Stir in the red wine vinegar just before serving.

Poach the eggs: Heat 3 cups water with the white vinegar until simmering in a large high-sided frying pan. Break each egg into a cup, then gently add to the water. Poach until the yolks are nearly set, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the eggs from the pan with a slotted spoon to drain the liquid and place on a plate. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon some of the polenta into bowls, top with some of the greens and a poached egg per bowl. Drizzle with the chile oil and garnish with the chopped parsley.

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