RECIPE

Bacon and Eggs Go Deep: Smoky Mushroom Ragu with Fried Eggs and Polenta

Polenta touched with honey and cheese is the bed for eggs covered with a wine ragu with seasoned mushrooms and bacon.

Ingredients

  • A handful of dried porcini mushrooms (about 1/3 cup)
  • 3 cups chicken stock, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 6 slices speck or bacon, chopped or diced
  • 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (eyeball it)
  • A pinch of cloves or allspice
  • Pepper
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or about 1/3 cup Marsala
  • Salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • A couple of handfuls of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Preparation

Place the dried mushrooms in a pot with 1 cup chicken stock and about 1/2 cup water. Bring to a low boil, reduce the heat to simmer and gently reconstitute to tender, 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat with the EVOO, a couple of turns of the pan. When the EVOO ripples, add the speck or bacon and brown for a couple of minutes to render. Add the crimini mushrooms and brown to tender. Add the cumin, clove or allspice, pepper and rosemary. Stir for a minute or two, then add the tomato paste and stir until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with the wine or Marsala.

Chop the 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 needed at all, to taste.

Bring the remaining 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup milk to boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and whisk in the polenta. Whisk until it starts to thicken, about 2 minutes, stopping short of your desired thickness. The 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 heat with a tablespoon of butter. Add four eggs and fry each to your desired doneness for four portions – cut back on the eggs if you’re cooking for fewer people.

Stir the honey, nutmeg and butter into the polenta, remove it from the heat, then stir in the cheese. If the polenta gets too tight, loosen it with more stock or room temperature water. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve the polenta in thick pools in shallow bowls and top with the mushroom ragu and a fried egg to order.

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Rachael Ray