I’ve been asking my aunt for weeks if her chickens have started laying eggs yet this season. I guess she took the hint, because yesterday she came by to drop off a bag full of fresh eggs. YAAAAAS! If you know me, you know I LOVE eggs, and the fresher the better.
I was inspired to make something hearty for a lunch or dinner meal rather than a traditional breakfast (mostly because I woke up late and making breakfast felt like a lie). Don’t get me wrong; I love a good breakfast-for-dinner, but this traditional combination of mushrooms, caramelized onion, arugula, and cheesy grits felt so RIGHT. The sweetness of the onion with the peppery arugula brings the earthy mushrooms and buttery grits to life. The egg is seriously crucial, and not to toot my own horn, but I poach eggs like a bo$$ and today was no exception.
I’ve made this recipe before with grilled shrimp in place of the egg, but this would also make an amazing vegan meal if you prefer a heap of veggies like leafy greens or spiced sweet potato on your cheese-free polenta. If you do omit the cheese, I recommend stirring in some almond or coconut milk for creaminess.
Prep Time | Cook Time | Total Time
5 mins | 20 mins | 20 mins
• 1 cup Corn meal (polenta)
• 3 cups water
• ½ cup sharp white cheddar cheese
• 1 small brown onion
• handful arugula
• ~15 small crimini mushrooms, sliced (or any mushroom you can find)
• 2 eggs
• 1 clove garlic
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• salt and pepper, to taste
• pinch of sugar
• 3 tablespoons butter
Begin by thinly slicing onion into rings. Add to a pan on medium-low heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Sautee, allowing to brown, for 10 minutes. I periodically add 1 tablespoon of water and stir until it evaporates to encourage even cooking. Then, add a pinch of salt, pepper, and sugar (to aide in caramelizing) and allow to cook for 5 more minutes, until VERY soft, stringy, and golden brown.
Meanwhile, cook polenta per package instructions. I boiled 3 cups of water, then added a pinch of salt and 1 cup of polenta, adjusting heat to low and stirring occasionally.
While polenta cooks, remove onions from the pan and add sliced mushrooms and chopped garlic to the residual olive oil from the onions. I adjust heat to HIGH to get some texture on the shrooms. They will release a ton of water and shrink during cooking, so high heat is the only way to get color on them. I even push them down with my spoon to get more contact with the pan.
To poach the egg, choose a deep pan or cast-iron skillet and fill with enough water to submerge the egg. The key to a perfect poached egg is to ADD VINEGAR to the water. I poured in about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, but white vinegar is equally effective. When the water boils, lower heat to a simmer and crack in your egg. Allow egg to bathe in the hot water for 2-4 minutes (depending on how runny you want it). I try to gently nudge the egg halfway through to ensure even cooking. To test doneness, just scoop out with slotted spoon and poke the yolk. If it has some give but isn’t too jiggly, it’s good to go. If it’s firm, you won’t have a runny yolk.
To assemble the bowl, scoop polenta into the bottom and top with onions and mushrooms. Quickly toss the arugula with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper and place on top, followed by the egg. Crack that egg and dig in!