I’ve been on an egg kick as of late. Actually, am on a bit of a duck egg kick. Have been experimenting with different ways to prepare eggs. Eggs can be tricky to get “just right”; a minute too long and they’re overcooked, a minute too short and they’re undercooked. Practice and repetition make perfect (or nearly perfect). Last week I prepared poached eggs; this week, am revisiting the soft-boiled egg preparation. And next, have a quick and easy method, my 30-second egg, for shirred eggs (with tarragon). But for now, back to the soft-boiled egg.
A few weeks ago, I prepared soft-boiled eggs with anchovies, crostini-style. Set the timer for exactly 6 1/2 minutes, dropped my eggs into boiling water, and hoped for the best (see the tasty results here). Today, I wanted to experiment with a slightly shorter cooking time. Was seeking a more runny yolk to set atop a creamy polenta. With a cooking time of 5 1/2 minutes, you can see that the whites are completely set, and the yolks runny.
I’ve prepared a creamy goat’s cheese polenta, topped with a mixed herb pesto, as a canvas for my soft-boiled egg. Was happy to find early-spring green garlic, which I quickly snatched up, this past weekend at the farmers’ market. Sauteed the young garlic in a little olive oil and sprinkled over the finished polenta.
Polenta comes from cornmeal, which is simply a coarse flour of maize (or field corn). This particular cornmeal hails from Anson Mills, and was milled from an Italian heirloom red trentino flint that was, until recently, nearly extinct, even in Italy. Anson Mills Rustic Polenta Integrale shows bright flecks of crimson bran, and features pronounced mineral components along with a lingering sweetness on the palate.
Whether using heirloom cornmeal or not, what you want to look for when shopping for any type of cornmeal are the words “stone-ground.” Stone-ground indicates that the hull and the oil-rich germ of the kernel are still attached. Degerminated cornmeal means that the hull and germ have been removed. As opposed to instant polenta, cooking stone-ground cornmeal requires considerably more love and attention. You must stir the polenta frequently, for a good hour or so until the grains become soft. While much more labor intensive than instant polenta, the differences in flavor and texture are quite notable.
Used a mixture of [Thai] basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and oregano in the pesto. However, you could easily play around with other herb combinations.
Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta, Soft-Boiled Egg, and Herb Pesto
Polenta (recipe below)
Soft-boiled eggs (recipe below)
Herb pesto (recipe below)
Green garlic, sliced, sauteed in olive oil, salt and pepper, ~2-3 minutes
Toasted pine nuts (optional)
Spoon the hot polenta into individual bowls. Top with a soft-boiled egg, herb pesto, green garlic, and toasted pine nuts.
yields about 4 cups cooked
6 ounces polenta (course cornmeal)
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons soft goat’s milk cheese
Place the polenta and water in a 2 1/2 quart saucepan and stir to combine. Set heat to medium-high and simmer stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 7-8 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and cook stirring frequently until the grains are soft, about 1 hour.
Whisk in the salt and pepper, butter, and cheese.
1/2 cup loosely packed basil (used Thai basil)
1/2 cup loosely packed parsley
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon capers
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a mortar (or food processor) add the herbs, capers, lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and pound until the leaves are well mashed. Slowly whisk in the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5 1/2 Minutes Soft-Boiled Egg
Eggs (chicken or duck)
Have ready a bowl filled with ice water.
Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Lower to a simmer and carefully drop in the eggs. Cook the eggs for 5 1/2 (chicken) to 6 1/2 (duck) minutes.
Scoop the eggs out of the water and immediately immerse them in the ice water to cool completely, about 5 minutes. Peel the cooled eggs, being careful to keep them intact.