Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the incredible edible egg (polenta and eggs)

subtitle: when i fell in love with the nytimes dining section

i still have the nytimes clipping of the article shoved into a binder with recipe tear outs. these days, i generally browse the nytimes online but there was a time when i had a job where the best part was the nytimes daily delivery. this was my first formal, regular introduction to the wednesday dining section.

you may have heard of such books as alone in the kitchen with an eggplant or what we eat when we eat alone, where the entire concept rests on some secretive meal that we each have to make when we're on our own. now, i have made this particular meal for others but i'm just not sure if it's appreciated as well in a group versus curling up alone in a couch corner after an exhausting day.

everyone's heard of putting a fried egg on top of almost anything as an added bonus to a dish. however, when i read this article, i never had. it sounded so good that i decided to go home and make it that very night. with that, i concocted my own comfort food. by that i mean that this is not something my parents ever made for me when i was younger (i have some of those too but that's a different story). this is something i independently discovered, and have made my own. granted, i did have to be of age enough so that i could appreciate an over easy egg and how the runny yolk seamlessly combines with just about any other flavor and adds a comforting richness to it. once i discovered this, there really was no stopping the endless combinations and possibilities. and each one tastes just as good as the last.

the recipe below is the first one i saw using this concept (polenta, eggs and dark leafy green) but now i put eggs over almost anything: various grains (rice, quinoa, pasta) and any vegetable (don't stop with dark leafy greens). it's the ultimate meal: quick, easy, affordable, tasty and comforting.

polenta, greens and eggs for 1
(adapted from melissa clark, nytimes)
  • 1-2 eggs (depending on how hungry you are. sometimes i make 2 eggs just so that i can have the two yolks)
  • polenta
  • lots of grated parmesean cheese
  • dark greens (my favorite is spinach but above you might be able to see that i used csa bok choy)
  • garlic
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • chicken stock
  • butter
  • i usually make the greens first since they can sit for a little bit without any trouble. heat olive oil in a pan, add lots of minced garlic and greens. cook over high heat until wilted. stir in red pepper flakes.
  • make the polenta: contrary to nytimes advice, i use quick cooking polenta (not quite instant but not the slow cook kind). bring 3 cups of chicken stock to a boil, reduce heat and add polenta, start whisking. once the polenta has started to thicken, stir in salt and pepper, parmesean cheese, and some butter. keep whisking until the polenta starts to pull away from the pot. cover to keep warm.
  • fry eggs in some olive oil. the olive oil helps the whites get all crispy. the runny yolks are downright necessary, so sunny side up or over-easy are best.
  • spoon polenta into a shallow bowl, top with greens and eggs. top with additional parmesean cheese.