In a fit of health consciousness, I went a little crazy at the market and bought several large bunches of local kale. When washed, it amounted to more than 30 cups. Yes, you heard that right: 30 packed cups of kale!
I love kale, but this was a little much even for me. Kale has been going into everything lately from eggs to potatoes, from soup to salad. But no matter how much kale I use, the pile doesn’t seem to diminish much. It’s the neverending pile o’ kale!
I took advantage of this kale-pportunity to try out another way to make polenta. Polenta is one of those things that is just elemental, like roast chicken or omelets. There are a million ways to make polenta. You can make it in the oven, the slow-cooker, the microwave or on the stove. You can cook it for 15 minutes or hours. You can spread it out onto a sheet pan and cut the hardened polenta into squares. You can deep-fry leftover polenta. The smallest amount of corn meal seems to make mountains of polenta. It’s a polenta-palooza!
Great to pair with the neverending pile o’ kale, no?
This polenta-making technique is from those fiddly folks at Cook’s Illustrated. It only takes 30 minutes of minimal whisking to achieve creamy polenta perfection.
And, as you can see, my CSA has goose eggs! Which are big honking suckers ;-) The equivalent, more or less, of two chicken eggs. There are a million ways to poach eggs too, but lately I have been liking Food52’s Control-Freak Poaching Method.
For the polenta:
6 cups of water or stock
1 1/2 cups of yellow corn meal
4 tablespoons of butter
1/3 – 1/2 of a cup of grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
For the Spicy Braised Kale and Mushrooms:
2 tablespoons of butter
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
8 ounces of white button mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper
Red chili pepper flakes
1/4 cup of dry white wine
6 cups of roughly chopped kale
For the poached eggs:
1 goose egg per person
How to prepare:
1. In a large, heavy Dutch oven, bring the 6 cups of water or stock almost to a boil with the lid on. Uncover the pot and season the water or stock with salt. Vigorously whisk the corn meal into the liquid a little bit at a time. As you whisk, be sure to get in all the corners and edges of the pot with the whisk to ensure that there are no lumps. When all the corn meal has been added to the water, cover the pot again and reduce the heat to low. Let the polenta simmer, stirring every 5 minutes, for 30 minutes total.
2. In the meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with a little bit of olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the minced garlic and the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms until they give up most of their liquid and begin to turn golden. Add the white wine and as many red chili pepper flakes as you like. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper. When the liquid has reduced to almost a glaze, add the kale to the pan and cover the skillet. Let the leaves wilt completely before stirring the kale and mushrooms together. Adjust the seasoning for a final time and remove the pan from the heat.
3. After 30 minutes, your polenta should be done. Move the pot away from the burner and vigorously whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until it has all been well-incorporated and the polenta is creamy. Stir in the Pecorino or Parmesan and adjust the seasoning.
4. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring about 4 to 5 inches of salted water to a near simmer. Carefully crack a goose egg into a small fine-mesh strainer. You want to separate the yolk and the more solid part of the white from the more watery part of the white. Carefully pour the egg into a large, shallow spoon. Gently lower the spoon into the water. Use another spoon to catch any bits of white that try to escape. When the egg is perfectly poached, the white should be opaque and when you gently move the egg back and forth, the white and the yolk should move in sync. When the egg is done, lift it out of the water and very carefully roll it onto a paper towel-lined plate.
5. To assemble the dish, spoon out about half a cup of polenta into a large, shallow bowl. Top the polenta with about a third of a cup of the spicy braised kale and mushrooms. Carefully position the poached egg on top of the braised kale and drizzle everything with good olive oil. Serve immediately.