Aired November 11, 2010
3 cups chicken stock, divided
2 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 slices speck or bacon, chopped or diced
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon cumin, eyeball it
A pinch of cloves or allspice
A sprig or 2 of rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine or about 1/3 cup Marsala
1 cup whole milk
1 cup quick-cooking polenta
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon honey
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
A couple of handfuls of Parmigiano-Reggiano
Place dried mushrooms in a pot with 1 cup stock and about 1/2 cup water. Bring to low boil, reduce heat to simmer and gently reconstitute to tender, 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a skillet overt medium-high heat with EVOO, a couple of turns of the pan. When oil ripples, add speck or bacon and brown a couple of minutes to render. Add mushrooms and brown to tender. Add cumin, clove or allspice, pepper and rosemary. Stir a minute or 2 then add tomato paste and stir until fragrant. Deglaze pan with wine or Marsala.
Chop reconstituted mushrooms and add them to the skillet along with the stock. Reserve the last few spoonfuls, where any grit may have settled. Add salt, if at all, to taste.
Bring remaining 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup of milk to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and whisk in 1 cup of polenta. Whisk until it starts to thicken, about 2 minutes, stopping short of desired thickness. Polenta should remain loose enough to pour but thick and rich in texture.
While the stock and milk heat up, heat a skillet over medium-low with a tablespoon of butter, add 4 eggs and fry each to desired doneness for 4 portions cut back on eggs if youre cooking for less.
Stir honey, nutmeg and butter into the polenta, remove from heat then stir in the cheese. If the polenta gets to tight, loosen with more stock or room temperature water, season with salt and pepper to your taste.
Serve polenta in thick pools in shallow bowls, top with mushroom ragu and fried egg to order.