Cheesy Baked Polenta with Eggs and Italian Sausage
Circle B Kitchen
Recipe courtesy of Eating Well magazine
This dish would be equally as good for breakfast, dinner or brunch. The polenta can be made a couple of hours ahead and held at room temperature until ready to assemble. The original recipe calls for a 9x13 pan, which would work well for a brunch dish, but I like using a smaller baking dish (10-inch round) which created a softer polenta and a little more polenta per egg. You can even fry up your eggs separately and add them to the polenta after it has cooked.
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
4 cups water, plus more as needed
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
1/2 cup shredded fontina or mozzarella (I used a 4-cheese Italian blend)
¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
6 large eggs (or however many will fit in your baking dish)
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, but not browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Gradually whisk cornmeal into the boiling water. Add salt and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the polenta bubbles, 1 to 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and cook, whisking frequently, until very thick, 10 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, once the polenta comes to a boil, transfer it to the top of a double boiler, cover, and place over barely simmering water for 25 minutes. This is convenient, because you don't need to stir it as it cooks).
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add sausage. Cook, stirring and breaking the sausage into small pieces with a spoon, until lightly browned and no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Drain if necessary and transfer to a cutting board; let cool. Finely chop when cool enough to handle.
Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
When the polenta is done, stir in fontina (or mozzarella) and ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. If the polenta seems too stiff, add small amounts of water to thin it to a thick but not stiff consistency. Spread the polenta in the prepared pan.
Make six 2-inch-wide indentations in the polenta with the back of a tablespoon. Break eggs, one at a time, into a custard cup and slip one into each indentation. Scatter the sausage on the polenta and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano evenly on top of the eggs.
Bake the casserole for 15 minutes. Then broil until the egg whites are set, 2 to 4 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Note: My eggs cooked up perfectly following the recipe, but if your oven tends to run hot, keep an eye on the eggs so that they don’t overcook.