Christmasy Poached Eggs Over Grilled Polenta

By • November 24, 2011 • 10 Comments

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Author Notes: This evolved as sort of a hybrid. When I was a child, our favorite holiday breakfast was one my mother made of eggs poached in tomato juice served on toasted English Muffins. Fast-forward several years to when I was thinking about how to incorporate goat cheese and polenta into a celebratory breakfast because my daughter, especially, loves both. And so the hybrid was born, though I will always think of it as a tribute to my mother.

I season up the tomato juice with a healthy dose of red pepper flakes and some lemon juice, and to the polenta I add chopped fresh rosemary and crisp pancetta. It's important to make the polenta a day ahead so it has time to set up firmly. Besides, who has time to stir polenta on a holiday morning!

It's also a good idea to have all your mise en place done on the morning you want to serve these because it all comes together quickly. So have plates ready, the goat cheese sliced (or crumbled - you know how the first couple of slices are perfect, and it's all downhill from there, so don't be attached to perfection here), and the parsley chopped. Oh, and the table set, but you can delegate that. Right?

Since this has definite Italian tones, Prosecco is an obvious companion. Alternatively, I've always got a case of Pelegrino in the basement.

This is wonderful on Christmas Day, as a multi-layered red and green breakfast/brunch. But don't underestimate its qualities as great hangover food on New Year's Day!
boulangere

Serves 6

For the Polenta

  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups medium or coarse polenta
  • 6 ounces pancetta
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • Sea or kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

For the Poached Eggs

  • The chilled, firm polenta, cut into squares
  • Olive oil
  • 32 ounces tomato juice
  • Healthy dose of red pepper flakes
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Sea or kosher salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces goat cheese, sliced or crumbled
  • A good handful of Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish
  1. Make your polenta the day before you plan to serve this. First preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Chop the pancetta into 1/4" cubes. Scatter on the baking sheet. Bake in oven until nicely crisp, 10-15 minutes.
  2. While the pancetta is cooking, bring water to a boil. Add the polenta in a steady stream while whisking. Reduce heat to medium and continue whisking until the polenta thickens and forms a boil that you can't stir down, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and rosemary. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta into the polenta. Stir in, then taste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Brush the inside of a square casserole (8"x8" or 9"x9") with the melted butter. Pour in the polenta and smooth it out to all the corners. Let cool at room temperature with a piece of plastic in contact with the surface so that a skin doesn't form. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next morning, remove the polenta from the fridge and cut it into squares of equal size. Begin warming a griddle or a skillet over medium heat. Film the bottom with olive oil. When it is hot, carefully lift out squares of polenta and place them on the griddle. Let the down side cook until nicely browned, then gently turn over and repeat until that side is browned.
  4. While the polenta is browning, heat the tomato juice with the red pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper until it reaches a good simmer. It should not be boiling rapidly. When the polenta is almost done, begin poaching the eggs by cracking each into a half-cup dry measuring cup, then easing it into the simmering tomato juice. You may need to raise the heat a bit to maintain the simmer.
  5. As the squares of polenta come off the griddle and onto plates, top each with some of the goat cheese, then use a large spoon to lift an egg onto the top of the polenta and goat cheese. Be sure to ladle over some of the wonderful poaching liquid. If you have some goat cheese left over, top the eggs with some crumbles. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. Happy holidays!
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almost 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Wow, I love how this sounds. I've never poached eggs this way before. It sounds wonderful!! I love polenta and I know I'd love this dish too. I could see adding some spinach too. Love this!

Dscn2212

almost 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

A layer of spinach sounds wonderful, CS! Thank you!

3-bizcard

almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Missed this, wow really love the idea of poaching the eggs in tomato juice. Going to try that tomato and egg is one of my favorite combinations. Pair with polenta YUM!

Dscn2212

almost 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

One of my favorite flavor combinations also, and thanks to my mother. My daughter would eat almost anything over polenta, and the pancetta (as opposed to bacon, as I'd made it for some time previously) is a nod to her, and now my, love of all things Italian. By the way, we should know in January if she is accepted into the company in Florence. If we're going to be baking in Montana in the summer of 2012, then cooking in Provence in 2013, we may be thinking about cooking in Tuscany in the not too distant future. Yikes. Who knew when we raised children to be independent and unafraid to be different that they'd do just that.

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about 2 years ago Pat in SoCal

Your last sentence speaks to me and my wonderful daughter. I have cooked in Provence and next time she will be with me. Thank you!

Dscn2212

about 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Here's to those wonderful daughters, Pat!

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almost 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Fabulous recipe! Love!

Dscn2212

almost 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you so much, drb!

Massimo's_deck_reflection_10_27_13

almost 3 years ago lapadia

YUM! Poach in tomato juice, need to try that. Perhaps serve this with a bloody mary or a sprinkle of vodka while adding some of the wonderful poaching liquid. Love this.

Dscn2212

almost 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Love the idea of bloody marys!