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Tomato-braised eggs and creamy baked polenta

Inspired by The Tasting Kitchen; recipe adapted from Joy the Baker and Marcella Hazan.

Scale

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In an 8×8-inch baking dish or a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, stir together the water (or chicken stock), coarse cornmeal, and salt. The cornmeal will sink to the bottom of the pan and the water will turn a bit cloudy. Bake for 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. If using canned tomatoes, combine the tomatoes (juice included), half the butter (4 tbsp, 2 ounces, or about 66 g), onion halves, and garlic (if using) in a medium saucepan over medium heat. (If using fresh tomatoes, see Notes below.) Keep the onion halves whole — or, you know, halved — for easy removal when the sauce is done. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will gradually reduce. The tomatoes should break down, but will stay somewhat chunky. Remove the onion halves, reserving if desired — I saw a great note somewhere that you can use them as a spread on toast, which I did and loved. Add salt and red pepper flakes to your liking, and set aside.
  3. Remove the polenta from the oven and add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and Parmesan cheese to the skillet, stirring until melted and fully incorporated. Spoon the tomato sauce over the polenta. Make four divots in the tomato sauce, and crack the eggs into each. Return to the oven to bake for 15 minutes, until eggs are set to your liking and polenta does not jiggle. (If you want your eggs softer, take the polenta out around 12-13 minutes, and if you are like me at the moment and need them cooked through — wah — bake for 18-20.) Enjoy immediately, with fresh basil over top and extra Parmesan.

Notes

When tomato season is in full swing like it is now, you should feel free to use fresh, ripe tomatoes for the sauce instead. Marcella Hazan recommends two methods, as found here (courtesy of Smitten Kitchen):

Blanch: Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for one minute. Drain them and let cool, then skin and slice into coarse pieces.

Puree through a food mill: Cut the tomatoes in half and place in a saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, then transfer to a food mill fitted with the largest holes. Puree through the food mill into a bowl.
Once prepared, use in the same way as the canned tomatoes, written above.