Bacon and Egg Cups
Ever had a bacon polenta egg cup for brunch? If you have, you know they’re delicious.
The perfect serving of all of the best things + cheese. Heaven.
If you’ve ever made them, you’ll also know that they’re a brunch host(ess)’s secret weapon. They look fancy schmancy, but the polenta can be made two days in advance, and the bacon/polenta cup prep can happen 3 hours ahead of baking time and left to sit on the counter at room temperature. Which means when you’re close to eating time, you crack a few eggs, do a little sprinkling of cheese, and spices and get them into the oven.
They take 25 minutes to cook, leaving you with plenty of time to throw together a quick vinegar-y salad of greens, plate the salads in readiness for the finished cups, set out your other brunch foods (which better include pastries or donuts), AND pour everyone a glass of orange juice.
2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 TBSP + 2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup fine ground cornmeal
½ cup (packed) grated Parmesan cheese
for Baked Egg Cups
20 thick slices bacon (We prefer Woodland Pork bacon)
6 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
8 large eggs
garlic salt and pepper to taste
for dressed Salad Greens
1 lb mixed spring greens (or spinach or arugula)
¼ reserved bacon drippings
¼ cup white wine vinegar (we prefer MadHouse White Wine Vinegar)
1 TBSP honey (we prefer CHF honey)
salt and pepper to taste
Pour the milk, water, sugar, and salt in a medium-sized pot and bring to boil. Because there’s milk in the mix, as soon as it starts to boil, you will need to turn down the heat to a gentle simmer—otherwise it will boil over the top. Slowly pour in cornmeal while rapidly whisking to avoid lumps. Continue to whisk for 5-7 minutes. If it starts to become too thick to whisk, switch to a wooden spoon. At the seven minute mark, turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Cool to lukewarm. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate; polenta will become firm.)
for Baked Egg Cups:
Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon; fry until beginning to brown but still bendy, about 4 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Cool slightly. Pour bacon drippings into a container left out at room temperature.
Line the sides of eight 1¼-cup custard cups (or eight large muffin tin cups) with 2 slices bacon each, forming a collar. Place a half slice of bacon on the bottom of each cup. Divide polenta among cups, about 1/3 cup each. Press polenta over bottom and up sides of bacon. Mix cheeses in bowl. Sprinkle ¼ cup cheese mixture over polenta in each cup. (Can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Crack 1 egg into center of each cup. Sprinkle eggs with remaining cheese, garlic salt and black pepper. Transfer cups to rimmed baking sheet. Bake until egg whites are almost set, about 20 minutes. Let eggs stand at room temperature 5 minutes (eggs will continue to cook).
Run a knife or slender silicon spatula around edge of cups; use a fork to gently pry the cups up and out of their cooking vessels and slide them onto a bed of salad on plates and serve.
Mix together dressing ingredients and heat for 15-30 seconds on stove or in microwave. In a large bowl, pour over salad greens and toss—we recommend pouring 2 TBSPs of dressing in at a time and tossing the greens, tasting as you go until it seems like the right amount of dressing. You needn’t use every bit of the dressing—just enough. Then divide the salad into 8 portions and make a small nest out of them on each individual plate in readiness for the plating of the egg cups.