Polenta is a versatile cornmeal-based staple of northern Italy. In this recipe, our chefs managed to make it both crispy and creamy by searing the precooked rounds before topping them with Gruyère cheese to melt in the oven. To make it a meal, we added a colorful veggie hash and a picture-perfect egg sunny-side up.
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Hot Smoked Paprika
Wash and dry all produce. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Thinly slice the mushrooms. Remove and discard the kale ribs and stems. Roughly chop the leaves. Thinly slice the scallion greens and whites. Mince the garlic. Slice half the polenta into ½-inch rounds. (Use the rest another day.)
Heat a ¼-inch layer of olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the polenta rounds. Cook 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown and slightly crispy. (HINT: You may need to work in batches, depending on the size of your pan.) Set aside the cooked polenta on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with Gruyère cheese, and transfer to the oven to warm.
Discard all but a thin layer of olive oil from the pan before heating over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms. Cook, tossing, for 3-4 minutes, until soft and golden brown. Add the scallions and garlic. Cook another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the kale and a splash of water. Cook, tossing, for 3-4 minutes, until soft and golden.
Heat a large drizzle of olive oil in the same pan over medium heat. Once hot, crack the eggs into the pan, and fry until the edges begin to turn golden brown. Reduce heat to low. Cover the pan for another minute, until whites are set but yolks are still runny. (TIP: Add a few teaspoons of water to the pan before covering to steam the eggs and speed up the cooking.) Season with salt and pepper.
Finish: Plate the cheesy polenta cakes. Top with the kale mushroom hash, eggs, and a sprinkle of hot smoked paprika. Enjoy!