Autumn is coming – you can feel and smell it in the air. It makes me sad that the summer is over for another year – a patchy summer at best – but I love the fact that I’ll be able to wear big jumpers and make big pots of comfort food (legitimately) again.
If you follow me regularly you’ll know how much I love polenta, how perfect then is this dish of baked polenta, topped with a rich tomato sauce, meltingly soft guanciale and eggs? So perfect that I ate the entire skillet over one day by myself. Hey, I’m just padding up for the winter…
BAKED POLENTA, TOMATO SAUCE, GUANCIALE & EGGS
Serves 3-4, or 1 very greedy person over several sittings.
For the tomato sauce:
1 (400 g) tin chopped tomatoes
1 carrot, diced finely
1 red onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
Small hunk of guanciale, sliced into about 1 cm slices
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the polenta:
500 ml water
Dash of milk or single cream
100-150 g polenta (quick cook is okay)
Knob of unsalted butter
Large handful freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 – 4 eggs
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Handful of fresh basil leaves
20cm oven-proof skillet
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
2. Make the tomato sauce: over a medium heat, fry the guanciale until slightly crispy and some of the fat has melted off into the pan. To this, add the onion, carrot and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, the garlic fragrant and the carrot softened and browned slightly. Season well then add the tomato sauce and simmer for about half an hour until the guanciale is soft.
3. Whilst this is simmering, make the polenta (if using quick cook do this a few minutes before the tomato sauce is finished, if using traditional polenta you should start the polenta before you start the sauce): in the skillet, bring the water to the boil with a healthy pinch of sea salt and the dash of the milk or cream. When boiling, add the polenta, whisking it in in a steady stream then turn the heat down to medium-low. Be careful – it will bubble volcanically! If using quick cook polenta, cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat and stir in the butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano. If using traditional polenta cook for about an hour, being sure to stir regularly, then remove from the heat and stir in the butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano, as above. Season to taste and set aside.
4. When the tomato sauce is cooked, pour it on top of the cooked polenta in the skillet, then, using a spoon, make 3 or 4 small wells in the sauce and polenta (depending on how many eggs you’re using) and crack an egg into each. Try to space them out evenly or the eggs will run into one another – as you can see from the above photos I didn’t succeed at this.
5. Place the whole skillet into the pre-heated oven and bake for about 8-10 mins (yolks will still be very runny). Remove carefully from the oven, immediately spoon into warmed bowls, top with a little more Parmigiano-Reggiano (if desired) and some torn basil. Enjoy.
Until next time, peace and love,