Monday, November 05, 2018

Sunday Breakfast: Polenta and Eggs

As often as I make bread, there are still times when I do not have any in the house. Which can be a problem on a lazy Sunday morning when I want to make a nice breakfast of fried eggs and toast.  This actually happened to me the first time when I was visiting my brother and his family in Austin when they had given up flour and most grains.  The only grains they had in the house were instant oatmeal flakes with a questionable use by date and cornmeal.  And I wanted eggs.  But I needed something to go with them, but what?

And I started thinking about the cornmeal and how it can be used to make polenta, and how similar it is to grits, and I realized I could probably make a single serving to go with the eggs.  Which is what I proceeded to do.  I brought three-fourths of a cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan and then added one-fourth of a cup of cornmeal and a little bit of salt.  I turned down the heat as low as it would go and simmered the mixture for about 20 minutes and then poured it out onto a plate to let it cool.  I then cooked up the eggs and plated them on top of the polenta, which had cooled enough to set.

And while not the same as toast (and let's be honest, nothing beats toast with eggs), it was quite tasty and satisfied my need for some kind of carbohydrate to go with the eggs.  And it was filling, too.  And it impressed the hell out of my brother and sister-in-law.

So when I found myself without bread last weekend I remembered that polenta-and-eggs breakfast and decided to do it again.  Except that this time, in my own kitchen, I was able to expand on the theme and came up with something even more tasty.  Here's how you can make it too:

Bring 3/4 cup of water to a boil over high heat in a small saucepan.  (I found this saucepan hanging from a strip in the canned vegetable aisle of the grocery store.  While immune from impulse candy purchases in front of the checkout lane, I find myself alarmingly vulnerable to those odd little items hanging from strips in the aisles; to wit - an equally small skillet, teeny tiny snack containers, and biscuit cutters.  All unnecessary, but I have not yet regretted bringing any of them home with me.)

Slowly stir in 1/4 cup of cornmeal (I prefer coarsely ground but any kind will do).  Turn the heat down as low as it will go and cook, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes, adding more hot water as necessary.

After the 20 minutes, when the mixture is thick and the cornmeal has softened, add about a tablespoon of olive oil or butter and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional but really adds to the flavor!).  Stir well and remove from the heat.  Pour the polenta out onto a plate and let it stand for about ten minutes to set.

If you are lucky enough to have some fresh parsley on hand from an earlier dish (as I was), sprinkle chopped parsley over the polenta.

Top with eggs, shrimp, sausage, or whatever you have on hand and serve immediately.

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