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The Big Book of Breakfast: Poached Eggs on Polenta with Chunky Tomato Sauce

This is an interesting idea that works: bake polenta, then top the firm squares with tomato sauce and an egg for a filling breakfast entrée. The recipe needed a couple of minor tweaks, but it worked well and tasted very good.

The original recipe called for 1 egg per serving, but there's a lot of polenta and 1 egg didn't really stretch as far as I wanted it to. Two eggs would make for a more generous entrée.

For the tomato sauce, Maryana Vollstedt tells the cook to use a can of whole tomatoes and process them in a food processor or blender until chunky. This didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, since there's a handy-dandy product known as diced tomatoes that's available just about everywhere. Perhaps she wants the texture to be smoother than what you'd get by using diced tomatoes, but if that's the case, it seems silly to call the recipe "Chunky Tomato Sauce." Unless you really want to get your food processor dirty, make things easy on yourself and use diced tomatoes.

The polenta and tomato sauce can both be made ahead of time and then reheated as you're poaching the eggs.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 1/2 cups cold water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp butter
6 or 12 poached eggs, below
Chunky Tomato Sauce, below
Extra Parmesan cheese

For the polenta: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix the cornmeal with 1 cup of the cold water. In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the remaining 2 1/2 cups of water and the salt and bring to a boil. Slowly stir in the cornmeal mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ricotta, Parmesan, and butter. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until firm, 30 to 35 minutes.

To assemble: Cut polenta into 6 squares and place each on a plate. Top each square with 1 or 2 poached eggs and a few spoonfuls of Chunky Tomato Sauce. Sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Poached Eggs
Crack one egg each into lightly sprayed ramekins or custard cups (about 3/4 cup capacity). Place the ramekins on a steamer rack in a deep pan with simmering water in the bottom. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until eggs reach desired doneness, about 3 to 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each ramekin and gently slide the egg out.

Chunky Tomato Sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add onions and garlic and sauté until tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and seasonings. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove and discard bay leaf. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Makes about 3 cups.



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