Food Fight #1: Poached Egg with Spinach and Buckwheat Polenta

April 2, 2007 at 6:48 pm | Posted in events, savory things | 1 Comment

poached egg with spinach and buckwheat polenta

When I saw that Eating Out Loud is hosting a new monthly event called “Food Fight,” with the first theme paying homage to the egg, I thought it the perfect opportunity to try to recreate that poached egg dish I had at Auge about a month ago.  I’m usually kind of creeped out by runny eggs (I even like my fried eggs well done), but this was really good!  It was served as a starter at the restaurant, but was plenty enough for a dinner at home.  How I managed to eat three more courses afterward that night is somewhat frightening. 

I thought that maybe a couple of the ingredients would be hard to find, but that really wasn’t the case.  One trip to the farmers’ market for eggs and spinach, and another to the health food store for buckwheat polenta, and I had what I needed for the main components of the dish.  The garnishes on Auge’s version were truffle parmesan and chestnut butter.  I found truffle pecorino at a small cheese shop in the neighborhood, and thought that a fine substitute.  As for the chestnut butter, I have no idea what that is, and used browned butter instead.

Not generally being a fan of oozy eggs, I must admit that I’d never poached one myself before.  On the first couple of tries, the whites where all over the place like little slips of wet tissue…not nearly the perfectly round little package I wanted for a public showing.  I never did get it just right (maybe next time), but I didn’t want to go through a whole dozen on one dinner.  My end result was perhaps slightly overdone, but delicious nevertheless.  Anyway, I expect there are many seasoned egg poachers out there who can handle this with ease.

The hardest part about this dish was getting everything together at once, since polenta turns into a stiff gunky mess if it sits around.  My solution was to have the spinach washed and waiting for me and the water for the egg heating when I started the polenta.  Then when I thought the polenta was almost finished, I just ignored it for a couple minutes on low heat (I know you are supposed to stir it constantly, but it came out just fine) while I slipped the eggs into simmering water and wilted the spinach.  Then I loosened up the polenta with a splash more water, finished it off with a knob of butter and some parmesan, and it was ready to go. 

By the way, a better and less nerve racking solution to the issue of timing is to recruit help.  My help was already busy watching The Biggest Loser, but gladly abandoned the TV for the table when dinner was ready. 

Poached Egg with Spinach and Buckwheat Polenta – makes 2 servings

For the buckwheat polenta:  Heat a few tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan.  Once melted, add in half of a medium yellow onion (diced) and saute until translucent.  Then pour in 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Slowly whisk 1 cup of buckwheat polenta into the boiling water.  Reduce the heat to low and stir fairly constantly for about 30-35 minutes.  Add a little extra water if it starts to become too thick.  When done, take the pan off the heat and stir in about 1/4 cup grated parmesan, 1 tablespoon extra butter and salt to taste.  (This actually made more polenta than I needed, so I put the extra into a rectangular plastic container and refrigerated.  It will be firm enough to cut into squares, lightly fry in olive oil, and pair with a sauce for another dinner.)

For the spinach:  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat, and then add in a clove of whole smashed garlic (just for flavor–remove it at the end).  Add in washed spinach (preferably still a little wet), and wilt down.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cover to keep warm until service.

For the eggs:  Crack each egg into a separate small cup, being careful not to break the yolks.  Let the eggs sit at room temperature while heating 2-3 inches of water to a bare simmer in a large shallow pan.  When just starting to simmer, add in a splash of white vinegar.  Carefully slip in eggs, one at a time.  Simmer for about three minutes and remove with a slotted spoon.

To serve:  Spoon polenta in center of plate.  Top with sauteed spinach and poached egg.  Drizzle browned butter around polenta and top with black pepper and shavings of truffle pecorino.

1 Comment »

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  1. Wow, This sure does look like a one-dish meal rather than a starter. With those ingredients, how can you go wrong?

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