If necessity is the mother of invention, then I’ve decided that hunger is most likely the father, and laziness, the step-father. That’s how it seems around here anyway, and definitely how it went down one evening a few weeks ago when I got home from running errands and went scrounging for something to throw together for dinner. We were hungry and the fridge offered up a few possibilities, among them some frozen spinach, leftover chorizo and eggs. We always have eggs from the coop, and when I’m feeling lazy, I'm happy to throw a fried egg on top of something and calling it dinner. And there’s just nothing like creamy polenta to pull a bunch of ingredients into something resembling a meal, that is ever since I discovered this super cinchy way to make it.
After years of enslavement to stirring polenta for hours, days and weeks to create that creamy consistency we love (which also meant that I rarely made it), I have been liberated by Russ Parsons who suggested that we just throw it in the oven and leave it there, refusing to let it out until it’s transformed itself into creamy loveliness, which takes about 45 minutes. Polenta tough love.
And so it was, that it made sense on the evening in question to take the 2 minutes required to combine the polenta with some water and get it in the oven to cook while I figured out what to do with the rest of the ingredients. I love creamed spinach and thought it would be quite lovely on top of the polenta, but I wasn’t in the mood to make the required béchamel, etc., etc. So instead, I grabbed some goat cheese and some milk and within a couple of minutes I had creamed spinach. Only better.
Assemblage was fun and easy. Onto each plate I spooned some polenta and topped that with some of the creamy spinach and then a fried egg. And then I took that chorizo and sprinkled it all over the top. And that, people, is the very long-winded story of the birth of this dish, which I hope you will enjoy as much as we do. Here’s the recipe…
Polenta with Creamy Spinach, Fried Egg and Chorizo
The instructions for this dish might look a bit involved, but if you read closely, you’ll see that this is super easy to throw together. While the polenta cooks in the oven, you can quickly toss the spinach ingredients together, cook the chorizo and fry some eggs. You could easily swap out the chorizo for some bacon, ham or such, but the combination of these flavors is just amazing.
For the polenta:
1 cup coarse ground polenta
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
For the spinach…
2 10-oz boxes of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
½ teaspoon salt
5-oz soft goat cheese
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2-4 tablespoons milk
1 cup cooked, crumbled chorizo (here's my recipe for homemade)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the polenta, water and salt in a 1 ½ quart baking dish. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in the butter and grated parmesan cheese. Keep warm.
Rremove the casings from the chorizo (if your sausage is in links), and brown in a medium hot skillet, breaking it up as it cooks. When cooked through, set aside and keep warm.
Combine all of the spinach ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir with a fork until well combined. Taste for salt and pepper. Add as much milk as needed to create a creamy consistency. You probably won't use all of the spinach if serving 4 people, but the leftovers are so good stirred into your scrambled eggs the next morning.
Fry the eggs until just set and still a bit runny, but thick.
To serve, place some polenta on a plate and top with some of the creamed spinach. Place the fried egg on top of the spinach, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and then a good sprinkling of the crumbled chorizo.