Quick Polenta & Leeks

with a fried egg

I’m shaking in my space boots! Another winter storm is on its way…supposedly. Whatever, guys. It can’t get much worse than Sandy in NYC, so unless we are literally going to experience the apocalypse, I don’t really pay much attention to whatever red and orange flashing lights are going off on The Weather Channel. Those people are a bunch of damn fear mongers, getting people all riled up and buying unneeded bulk supplies of water, batteries, and who knows what else. Every time some “storm” is coming, it’s like Walgreens and your local meteorologist have teamed up and cut one another in on some deal. Maybe they have. Maybe we’re all just living in a snow globe. What is reality? Who am I? Why am I? Are you all have flashbacks to when you learned about JFK’s assassination and conspiracy theories in junior high? You’re welcome. I hope that was a nice distraction from your usual Wednesday morning routine (mine being pack a lunch, make and drink coffee, then rush to brush my teeth and comb my hair to make my usual train). I think that I may be lacking in sunshine/vitamin D. Who knows? I do hope that we at least get a tiny bit of snow tonight before spring, then summer, has me sweating my ass off all over the city. I am not looking forward to that. I’d rather have a million blizzards than have to deal with touching other sweaty people on a packed morning commute.

Quick Polenta & Leeks

Story of my life.
So, now that the cookie excitement is over with, it’s back to normal for me! And there’s nothing too exciting on the horizon, which has its pros and cons. We have vacations planned for later on in the year, but for now I’m just going day by day and waiting for our next federal holiday. I did just finish an excellent book, though; Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang. I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of it, as Mr. Huang is kind of a loud, boisterous dude and I’m not usually a big fan of that, but I adored every single page of the book. It’s great to learn about New York, learn why cooks become cooks, and to be honest, about Taiwanese and Chinese culture. It opened my eyes to a lot, and it’s made me want to explore more restaurants and try tons of new kinds of food. The book even has a guideline for making beef noodle soup; not a recipe, but just some ideas. Look for that soon, because I am not obsessed with the idea. I’m not sure what to read next, though. Maybe The Apprentice by Jacques Pepin? I just read three Star Wars novels in a row, so now I want to read three awesome food biographies or collections of food stories. Anyone have any suggestions? I’ve done the usual; Blood, Bones, and Butter, all of Bourdain’s stuff, some Ruth Reichel, etc. but I’d love to hear what your favorites are!

Quick Polenta & Leeks

Speaking of food-centric books, after reading Heat, I was inspired to make my own polenta, which I had never done before. Now, when I first made it, it was a laborious process, albeit completely worth it. In the book, Bill Buford talks about how polenta shouldn’t be something that is made quickly or carelessly, but something to be stirred, thought about, and cared for. I get that, but for my purposes, which were a long Friday night followed by a painful Saturday morning, I wanted something fast, hearty, and rich to cure what ailed me. Enter this quick polenta. Just stir it for 20-30 minutes, add some butter and cheese, if you want, cook up some vegetables and bacon, top with a beautiful fried egg, and call it a day. If I can make this when I’m suffering from a hangover, you can make it too, I promise. Kramer couldn’t believe I woke up and started cooking, but sometimes when you’re in a state, there’s nothing like a home cooked meal instead of ordering delivery (which often takes forever and is cold by the time you receive it, anyway). This obviously isn’t a life changing polenta (that’s for another day – get excited), but it is creamy, absolutely delicious, and ready to sooth you and your family by the time your coffee is ready. The caramelized leeks, crispy bacon, and nature’s perfect sauce (egg yolk, of course) make for an irresistible combination.

Quick Polenta & LeeksLosing at Scrabble to Ryan with Kramer and Morgan, mushrooms for an upcoming video (exciting), Kramer being a cameraman, and me with a totally normal sized bottle of bourbon.
Quick Polenta & Leeks
Crisp up your bacon and then cook the leeks in its fat (or use olive oil or butter – your call) while simultaneously cooking your polenta low and slow.

Quick Polenta & Leeks
Then just fry an egg and plate!

Quick Polenta & Leeks

Quick Polenta & Leeks
That’s the stuff.

Quick Polenta & Leeks
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
Quick Saturday morning polenta with sauteed leeks, crispy bacon, and a fried egg.
  • 1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal + 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups water, plus more as needed
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 6 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 3 large leeks, thinly sliced
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Combine the cornmeal and 1 cup of water, whisking well (this will keep your polenta from becoming lumpy). Bring the other 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pot and add 1 teaspoon of salt. When boiling, add in the cornmeal and water, then bring to a simmer. Stir over medium heat, scraping down the sides as necessary, then reduce to medium-low once the polenta has started to thicken. Stir every 5 minutes or so until the water has been absorbed (about 20 minutes), check the consistency, and maybe add another ¼ to ½ cup of water, depending on the thickness. Fold in the butter, cheese, and any additional salt. Taste and adjust as needed.
  2. While your polenta cooks, fry your bacon in another pan over medium-high heat until crisp, then remove from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate. Cook the thinly sliced leeks in the bacon fat (or oil or butter if you aren’t using bacon) until softened, about 8 minutes, then add the bacon back in to warm it up. In yet another pan, fry your eggs until the whites are set. Place a big spoonful of polenta on your plate, top with the bacon and leeks, then your fried egg. Season with some freshly ground black pepper and serve.


18 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing the step by step and process shots and behind the scenes shots – in this post and your Anderson experience. So fun and congrats again!

  2. Welp, now I know what I’m having for dinner (seriously). Thanks for the idea!

  3. I adore polenta and always forget how easy it is to make. I have some left over from a recipe I made last week, this might make an appearance on my menu soon!

  4. Erin says:

    Not a food book, but one of my favorites (and it ties in with your Kennedy reference in this post) is Stephen King’s — 11/22/63

    Even if you’re not a King fan, it’s an amazing read that absolutely blew my mind. The book is HUGE, but I blew through it in no time.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    That egg on top is just amazing.

  6. JulieD says:

    Ahhh, you know how I feel about fried eggs…they complete a dish. Looks wonderful, Sydney!

  7. jenny says:

    if you haven’t read laurie colwin, you MUST. probably my favorite food writer out there. I also enjoyed “dearie,” the new biography of julia child. “what einstein told his cook” is good for the science/food nerd in you (if you like the scientific aspect of cooking). and, on a non-food note, just a shout-out for one of my favorite memoirs, “orange is the new black” by piper kerman. poignant and hilarious–about a writer who ends up spending 18 months in a minimum security women’s correctional facility after a crime she committed right after college catches up with her. so good. happy reading! :)

  8. Keep safe, friend!! At least you have some delicious food to cling to while the storm passes. This recipe is super rad!

  9. This looks so incredible. Don’t let the weather channel worry you. . . I agree that they work on scare tactics!

  10. This looks like the perfect meal to brace for the storm. yum!

  11. Don’t get me started on all that philosophical life stuff. Once I get thinking about those things, it’s hard to stop. It seems like there’s something so much bigger than us out there. Anyway, can you believe I’ve never had polenta? Must give it a try!

  12. Sarah says:

    Oh my goodness. I just read the title of the recipe and I knew it was for me! I LOVE all those things. I’m making this ASAP!!

  13. I love fried/baked polenta. You make the polenta very solid and let it set in the fridge over night, then in the morning cut it up into slices and you can either fry it or bake it. Pretty damn good under an egg. I read peoples cookbooks ones with stories in them or garden advice, one of my favourites is Steaphanie Alexander she is Australian.

  14. Hope you’re okay in the midst of the snow storm!

    Oh and what do I need to do to wake up to this tomorrow morning? Maybe I can slip some hints to the boyfriend!

  15. Yum this looks so delicious, I love your photos! Hope the storm turns out to be not that bad!

  16. This sounds fantastic! I love polenta. Definitely would love to try this.

  17. […] Cheesy Grits with Leeks, Pancetta and Egg, adapted from Crepes of Wrath […]

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