Baked Eggs with Polenta and Mushrooms

These baked eggs with polenta and mushrooms are easy to make, boast a European flair, and are exceptionally comforting to the palate as well as the pocketbook. And they just as satisfying any time of day.

Four individual cocottes filled with baked eggs with polenta and mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet.

These individual baked eggs with polenta and mushrooms are what you yearn for as simple weekday (or weeknight) comfort food. You’ll be so taken, you’ll want to toss them together again for brunch when you’re in the mood to impress.–Jenny Howard

Baked Eggs with Polenta and Mushrooms

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 35 M
  • 50 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 2 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Super Tuscan cookbook

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Special Equipment: 4 large (about 1½ cups capacity) ovenproof coffee mugs, ramekins, or glass cups

Ingredients

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  • For the mushrooms
  • For the polenta
  • For the baked eggs

Directions

Make the mushrooms
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
In a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 4 minutes.
Stir in the mushrooms, garlic, thyme, and mint, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown, 5 to 8 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and discard the garlic and herbs.
Make the polenta
In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the water, butter, and salt to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and very gradually sprinkle in the polenta, stirring constantly to avoid dry lumps. Cook the polenta just until it begins to thicken, about 1 minute.
Remove the polenta from the heat. It should only be lightly thickened; it will firm up during baking.
Stir in the pecorino, if using.
Make the baked eggs
Lightly oil 4 ovenproof coffee mugs or ramekins.
Spoon half the mushroom mixture into the mugs, dividing it evenly. Top each with equal amounts of the polenta followed by the remaining mushrooms.
Use a spoon to make a slight indentation in the top layer of mushrooms. Carefully break an egg into each mug and lightly season with salt and pepper.
Tester tip: Be sure to leave enough room in each mug to accommodate the egg, which will expand slightly as it bakes.
Sprinkle the pecorino evenly over the eggs, dividing it evenly among the mugs.
Place the mugs on a large rimmed baking sheet. Top the mugs with a second baking sheet or a sheet of aluminum foil.
Bake until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still runny, 10 to 14 minutes.
Remove the mugs from the oven. Let stand for a few minutes and serve hot.
Print RecipeBuy the Super Tuscan cookbook

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Recipe Testers Reviews

This is an awesome go-to weeknight dinner or quick weekend brunch. Everything is probably in the pantry already and it comes together very, very quickly. I even made the polenta and mushrooms ahead of time, separately, and was able to put assemble the cups right before mealtime and it worked beautifully.

I cannot wait to make this on a larger scale and serve to guests since it feels so indulgent and fancy...who wouldn't love warm polenta with the rich flavors of the mushrooms and runny egg that you can dig into with a spoon on a cold fall day?

One change I might make would be to add more cheese, both to the polenta and on top of the whole thing, but that's probably more a matter of personal preference.

This polenta is the perfect brunch dish. But it’s also a great breakfast/lunch/dinner dish, rich and flavorful, with creamy polenta and the earthy taste of mushrooms, completed by the great texture of egg and cheese on top. Great comfort food!

I used 3 portobello mushrooms and 3 tbsp grated Pecorino instead of 2.

This is a comforting brunch or even a fall dinner dish that’s easy to prepare. In the time it takes to preheat the oven, the mushrooms can be diced. You can use pre-diced pancetta and instant polenta to make this all pull together very quickly.

I felt a little tweak was needed. I would add some flavor to the polenta, cooking it more like I normally would in either broth or a combination of milk and water or maybe stirring in a little of the cheese.

We cooked this 3 times, using portobellas and creminis and then King Oysters (all worked nicely) and used cast iron mini coquettes twice and finally a slightly larger stoneware soup mug. The polenta makes a bit more than you need if using smaller coquettes but more comfortably fit in the larger stoneware soup bowls (handled like you might use for French Onion soup).

Lesson learned from the first batch: leave enough room for the egg (the egg white rapidly will slide over the rim if there isn’t enough room when you add the egg) and maybe create a slight well by pressing the second layer of mushrooms in gently with a spoon or spatula in the center first. Also, if the pancetta is hopping out of the pan, lower the heat and it is time to add the mushrooms!

I had never used instant polenta before—it comes together very quickly and, in fact, if you cook to the recipe, I suggest you sift in the polenta to the boiling water while stirring gently or whisking, so you don’t end up with any dry lumps. I actually found it was slightly better to start sifting it in a bit before the boil when I tried it with broth, and finally, using a stoneground cornmeal from Hayden Mills for my final version, along with a tablespoon or two of lemon juice in the broth and skipping additional salt since the broth was salted. The cornmeal took maybe 5 minutes to thicken and was done at the lowest heat, but was worth it as the texture was more interesting (a blend of fine and medium coarse that you get with stoneground. That refinement turned this into something worthy of brunch with guests. Add an extra sprig of thyme on top!

I don’t see why this would not also work with maitake or other favourite mushrooms (actually anything other than beech mushrooms which give up too much water), and quick cooking grits would work fine!

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Comments

  1. I have had this cookbook on my shelf for years but never came across this recipe, probably because I was so enamored with the pastas, proteins, vegetables and desserts to think of giving much thought to the breakfast chapter. So I should thank this recipe alone just for making me revisit an entire section of a book I skipped over.

    I made these vegetarian by omitting the guanciale and topping with some garlic sautéed spinach at the end after the bake. There was some side-eye at the mint in the mushrooms step for fear it would overwhelm the entire dish, but it only imparted a light background flavor on the mushrooms without upstaging their savoriness. The custardy yolk swirled into the warm polenta was a dream. Personally, I’d enjoy more mushrooms.

    The make-ahead potential of this recipe is really what excites me. You could make a big batch of polenta in advance, and pre-fill your dishes, reheating them first before adding the egg and baking as normal. What a great and healthy breakfast to pull out for company.

  2. Oh, yummy! We’re having this for dinner tomorrow night! It looks like the perfect entree to take advantage of my girls’ hard work in the nesting boxes. I’m thinking a tablespoon or 2 of tomato paste in the mushroom/pancetta mixture for good measure.

      1. LOVED it!

        Besides the tomato paste, I splashed a good amount of vermouth into the mushrooms at the end to make them more ragu-y. It was a good addition, I think.

        In all, it was hardy, satisfying, real comfort food. I agree with your testers that it would be equally suitable for breakfast, brunch or dinner. I chose a coarse ground polenta which was great for a rustic family meal. For a company brunch I’d probably go with a finer milled product. And speaking of company, this is a dish that you could easily double or triple — with some advance prep — then assemble, bake and serve to a crowd without breaking a sweat. …so long as you had enough individual bakers.

        PS I’ve never bought instant polenta but I put the salt and milk in a bowl with the dry polenta early in the afternoon and gave it a stir from time to time until I was ready to set it on the stovetop. It cooked to a thick porridge in about 5 minutes and baked to the consistency of a somewhat firm custard with the eggs.

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