To me, polenta is just fancy grits. And who doesn’t love fancy grits with some eggs? This classic breakfast combination is always hearty and fulfilling. Breakfast is also one of my favorite meals, so I’m always looking for ways to mix up its traditional ingredients to serve at all hours of the day.
This dish takes regular polenta and incorporates Caciocavallo cheese, a stretched curd cheese from Italy with flavors somewhere between provolone and mozzarella. I then let the polenta set up, and cut it into chunks to broil. I top those with peppery arugula, poached eggs, briney Castelvetrano olives, and a savory piquillo pepper sauce that is a snap to make. Breakfast for dinner has never tasted so good.
Broiled Polenta with Poached Eggs and Piquillo Pepper Sauce
For the red pepper sauce:
- 1 cup roasted piquillo peppers (1 10-ounce jar in liquid)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 small shallot
- 2.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3.5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the polenta:
- 8 ounces Caciocavallo cheese, grated
- 1 cup polenta
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- two handfuls baby arugula, washed and dried
- 8 eggs
- 6 ounces Castelvetrano olives, pitted and sliced
- extra virgin olive oil
To make the piquillo pepper sauce
Drain piquillo peppers of their jar liquid and rinse off. In a food processor, combine the peppers, garlic, shallot, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt. Puree until smooth and set aside. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
To make the polenta
Lightly brush or spray a 9×13 pan with extra virgin olive oil. In a medium pot, combine the milk, broth, and salt. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Once the pot reaches a boil, pour in the polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly as you pour. Let the pot return to a boil, stirring, and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Stir constantly to avoid having a lumpy polenta. The polenta will thicken gradually and eventually start to pull itself away from the edge of the pot. This could take 30 – 40 minutes, but once this starts to happen, the polenta is done.
Transfer the polenta to your prepared 9×13 pan, gently pat it down into an even layer, and set aside. The polenta can be prepared up to a day in advance and kept covered and refrigerated. If you need to use it immediately, place the pan in the fridge uncovered for about an hour until it is set up to a solid consistency.
Preheat the broiler. Once the polenta is set up, remove it from the fridge and cut it into triangles. Place these on a well oiled baking sheet. Broil for a few minutes (2-3) on one side until brown and crisp and remove from the oven. Flip each over and broil the other side until brown and crisp. You may have to broil these in batches depending on the size and type of your broiler. Set finished polenta triangles aside, covered in foil, until all are ready to serve. Poach the eggs, and lightly toss the arugula in a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. To plate, place two or three polenta triangles on the plate, spoon over some of the piquillo pepper sauce, add a handful of arugula, top with two poached eggs, and sprinkle with olives. Enjoy!
P.S. Sharing recipes and photos of cooking victories is something I do often on my own blog–check it out: www.missionkitchensf.com