A rich, indulgent dish that combines creamy polenta with crispy egg whites and runny yolks. There’s also a crisp salty touch from the capers, a hint of herbaceousness from the sage, and plenty of cheese to keep you entertained. With a slight cooking time adjustment, you could substitute any type of egg in this recipe – duck would make it stupidly rich and quail would make it cute.
- olive oil, for frying
- 6 chicken eggs
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 75 g butter
- 20 g capers
- ½ cup sage leaves
- 25 ml lemon juice
- 50 g shaved parmesan
- 325 ml water
- 325 ml milk
- 100 g polenta
- 1 large pinch salt
- 25 g butter
- 30 g grated parmesan
- salt and white pepper, to season
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the polenta, mix the water and milk in a wide-based pan (see note), place it over medium heat and watch it carefully with whisk in hand and polenta nearby so you can catch it before it boils over. As the liquid comes up to the boil, slowly rain in the polenta with one hand and whisk with the other. Once it comes to the boil, turn the heat down to as low as it will go, throw in a large pinch of salt and continue whisking at regular intervals. This is important as lumpy polenta is very bad. Cook for at least 30 minutes.
The polenta is ready once you taste it and can no longer feel a grainy texture on your tongue. Mix in the butter and parmesan and season quite heavily with salt and white pepper. Cover the pan with a lid and set it aside in a warm spot.
At this point you need to be ready to go with everything as the next few steps should happen at a fairly fast pace.
Place a large frying pan on high heat, warm it for a minute, then add more oil to the pan than you think you should – about 3 mm. While the oil is heating, crack the eggs into a bowl.
Once the oil is hot and starts to shimmer, pour in the eggs across the pan. Give them a little jiggle, use a spatula to make sure they’re not sticking on the bottom, and season with salt and black pepper. Keep frying, basting the eggs with the hot oil, until the whites are nice and crispy. This should only take a couple of minutes. Once cooked, carefully remove the eggs from the pan and rest on paper towel.
Place another pan on medium heat with the butter and capers, swirling the pan as it heats. Add the sage once the capers start to sizzle, and cook until the butter starts to foam. Once it foams, keep a close eye on it as you want to add the lemon juice just after the butter starts to brown, which will happen at around the same time as the capers start to spit. Once the lemon juice has been added, set the sauce aside and quickly start constructing your dish.
Give the polenta an extra whisk then place on a warmed platter. Top with the eggs and shaved parmesan, and spoon the butter sauce over the top.
• You can garnish with chopped parsley if a little green will stop you feeling guilty about the amount of butter and cheese you are about to eat.
• It’s best to make polenta in a wider-based pan so it has plenty of room to move and it also helps it to cook nicely with less chance of sticking.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd. Dish from The Fortynine Studio. Stone from Onsite Supply & Design.