Wow, sometimes things just come together.
- I’d been thinking since April about a version of huevos rancheros with a polenta base.
- I know, polenta is Italian, but…
- Giovanna, my friend in Italy, suggested that we welcome spring with a co-post highlighting asparagus. (She’s making an asparagus and gorgonzola frittata – yum!)
- She suggested that we post May 5th.
- May 5th is Cinco De Mayo, the celebration of Mexican heritage and pride!
- It was a sign don’t you think?
So I made it. And you know what, it’s fabulous. Really, so good. Promise to try it, okay?
If you’ve made traditional Italian polenta, you know that it means standing at the stove-top, stirring constantly for 45 minutes – well worth it if you are in need of meditation or just a great forearm workout. But have you heard about Marcella Hazen’s no-stir polenta? It’s genius. I’ve had her book Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking for ages, and have cooked many delicious recipes from it, but never the polenta. Her method is simple, still taking about 45 minutes, but it instead of the traditional constant stirring, it only requires stirring every 10 minutes.
With Marcella’s method, you can do the remaining prep for this recipe in the 10 minute spans when you’re not stirring. Then in the last 5 minutes, you fry up your sunnyside eggs to crown the top. Perfecto! Or, I mean, Perfetto!
Polenta Huevos Rancheros with Asparagus
For the Polenta:
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup polenta (not quick-cooking)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 jalapeno chili seeded and minced (I use gloves for this)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound asparagus cut in 2-inch pieces
- 2 cups cooked pinto beans or 1 15-ounce can pinto beans rinsed and drained
- 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes halved
- 1 large avocado peeled, seed removed, and cut into bit sized chunks
- fresh corn kernels cut from one ear of corn
For the top:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 large eggs
- 4 ounces queso fresco crumbled
- 12 or more fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish
To prepare the polenta:
- Bring water to boil in a 2-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add salt. Now add the polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
- Continue to whisk 2 minutes. Whisk in oregano and jalepeno. Reduce heat to low and cover; simmer polenta 10 minutes, then stir vigorously for 1 minute. Replace cover and repeat for a total of 45 minutes.
During the last 15 minutes or so of cooking the polenta, cook the asparagus.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot. Add olive oil and garlic, stir until garlic is fragrant, about 15 seconds.
- Add asparagus; cook and stir until crisp tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
When the polenta has just 5 minutes left to cook:
- Wipe out the skillet that you used to cook the asparagus.
- Heat skillet over medium heat until hot.
- Crack eggs into skillet, keeping some space between them if possible.
- Fry eggs until whites are set and yolk has begun to cook but is still runny in the center for sunnyside up eggs. Or flip the eggs if you prefer a less runny yolk.
Assemble the plates:
- Divide polenta evenly among four plates, spreading it into a thin circle with the back of a spoon.
- Divide evenly and sprinkle over polenta: asparagus, beans, tomatoes, avocado and corn kernels.
- Top each plate with a fried egg.
- Sprinkle queso fresco over the top of each plate and garnish with sprigs of fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.