Baked Polenta with Corn and Eggs

Heat your oven to 350 degrees, and melt 2 or 3 tablespoons butter in an ovenproof skillet (9 or so inches). If you like, you can let the butter melt, bubble and turn brown, about 5 minutes.

When the butter is melted, stir in about 1/2 cup corn kernels (frozen, fresh, canned or leave the corn out entirely). Let sizzle for a few minutes, then add a quart of liquid (some kind of broth or water), 1 cup polenta (not the instant kind) and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on your love of salt and whether your broth was salted.

Whisk until the mixture bubbles and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.

At this point, you’ve got options. Add a handful of chopped herbs and a couple of sliced scallions or a shallot, or skip it. Two or three cups of chopped greens (spinach, kale, broccoli rabe) is also nice if you want more vegetables. Cheese lovers can stir in 1/2 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese, or grated Parmesan (or another firm grating cheese). Or stir in some sliced olives or roasted red peppers or marinated artichokes.

Cover the pan. (Aluminum foil or a pasta pot lid will work if you don’t have a covered skillet.) Bake for 20 minutes, then uncover and give the mush a good stir with a whisk. Cover once more, and bake for another 15 to 25 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the polenta is tender. At this point, it makes a great side dish.

To turn this into a meal, you can add some eggs. Use a spoon to make four to six divots in the polenta, and crack an egg in each one. Return the pan to the oven and bake uncovered for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the eggs are cooked to taste.
Crack lots of pepper on top, sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and strew with herbs and maybe more cheese before serving. Serve with a cool, crisp salad on the side, especially as these late spring evenings continue to warm up.

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