I'm standing at the Whole Foods butcher's counter waiting for him to grind some buffalo. (That's no euphemism for sex, they were out of pre-ground bison so I had him chop up some steaks for my fancy-ass meatloaf recipe which you can find here.) I have to wait, so I use my time wisely to Instagram a cute baby licking the wall. He was left unattended in his cart.
The butcher hands me my buffalo and I head off to my happy place: The cheese aisle.
I heard some guy sharply yell, "Hey!"
But I don't respond to that, so I keep walking. Plus I could see the Brie and I do respond to that.
"Hey you, excuse me!" The voice gets a little louder and closer. My Marine Corps strut is halted by a startling hand on my shoulder. First I think I'm busted by the Cheese Police. If I ever want to see my abs again I'm not supposed to be within twenty feet of this area.
"You took my cart," he says.
I guess when I was looking for wifi I walked off with his goodies.
"Sorry. At least your kid wasn't in it," I cheerfully say as the daggers he shot with his eyes bounce off my cholesterol-protected heart.
Once home, I discover a little stowaway in my bag: A package of peeled, wild caught shrimp. His shrimp. Stranger's shrimp. When I took off with his basket he must have tossed his shrimp in my basket, then chased me down to get his basket back-- but didn't retrieve his shrimp.
He was obviously some deranged, issue-laden shrimp-abandoner. Maybe off of his meds.
The next thing I know I'm standing in my own really nice, safe kitchen looking at this weirdo's wrapped up seafood.
Staring at someone else's food in my own home feels creepy, like I was watching someone else's porn. Then I think of a delicious dish to make!
Poached eggs and shrimp on griddled polenta with sauteed spinach.
1 package of polenta (pre-made in a tube)
1 bag (5oz) spinach
16 peeled, tail off, de-veined, shrimp
Tarragon mustard, if desired
Vinegar for poaching water
Salt and Pepper
Small bowl for raw eggs
Plates to hold cooked components
It Takes This Much Time:
Good enough for: You and three others. Each diner gets two eggs, four shrimp and two slices of polenta -- even if they're a child because you can finish anything they leave on their plate.
1. Wake up, stretch, greet the day and add 1 Tbsp of white vinegar to a pot of water.
I like to use one of my grandmother's pots for luck. Pour vinegar in, it helps your eggs seize up and poach. Turn the heat on high, and at just that point it passes simmer, before it rolls to a boil -- sort of that spot between a baby's giggle and a full laugh -- add two eggs.
2. Egg Poaching 101: Free poaching is the way to go! It's like going commando -- you need no constricting egg mold or shaper.
Simply crack two eggs into a small bowl. Hold the bowl close down near the water and slide in the eggs -- gently, like you're easing your own tender body into a super hot bath.
Wait about 30 seconds, run the slotted spoon around the eggs, easing them up from the bottom a bit.
After exactly three minutes, cradle those babies in your slotted spoon, lift them out and onto a plate lined with paper or cloth to drain excess water.
Repeat until all of the eggs you need are poached.
3. Drop the shrimp in the same water. Getting two uses of the same pot makes whoever washes dishes in your home happier. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper.
They'll poach in about two minutes. You want the cooked shrimp to look as if they are Brought to You by The Letter "C", but the vinegar might force them into a submissive "S". Don't worry, they should be tender despite the rough water. They do need to look solidly pink.
4. Saute the spinach. While you 're waiting for the water to boil in Step 1, add half a teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet heat it to medium.
Add the whole bag of spinach; it wilts as fast as a sweet person in the rain. Within two minutes, you'll have:
Turn of the heat and keep it warm while you finish up the eggs and shrimp. Remove from skillet.
5. Slice and fry up the polenta. I like the ease of a roll of pre-made polenta.
Yes, making polenta from scratch is easy -- but if you have time to do that you might be a shoe polisher, or a bread baker. Or a murderer (just saying it looks sketchy to have so much time).
Slice slabs one inch thick. Add a drop or six of olive oil to the same skillet you sauteed the spinach in.
This is a great time to tell your skullery maid that they should love your economy of pots.
Polenta cooks in about three minutes. Just like when you're trying to get that perfect tan, don't flip it over until it gets nice and brown on one side.
Remove directly to your serving plates. Place two slices side by side.
6. Assemble. You're almost there. Call your guests to the table, or to the floor if you're in Morocco. Remind them to wash their hands. Or hand if this is Morocco.
Use tongs to add spinach on top of the polenta. Pile a poached egg on that. Adding the shrimp can be tricky -- perch them precariously on top. If the entire assembled dish wouldn't fall over like a stacked old lady's boobies when she lays down, I'd add mushrooms, too.
Now carry the plates to the table as if you were Eliza Dolittle balancing a book on her head. In fact do that too. Now.
The egg yolk will gush out as you cut, and blend perfectly with the soft, corn polenta. A little spicy hot sauce makes it even more delicious, and a dab of tarragon mustard makes a great, fat-free sauce.
Of course I wanted to slather hollandaise sauce all over this dish. I want to slather that yummy, lemony buttery sauce all over my body and let ants lick it off, but I am trying to not ever hear the yell, Clear!
Just the thought of a minimum-wage orderly giving me a sponge bath in hospital gives me a heart attack. I used discipline in my recipe -- the tarragon mustard and Tabasco -- and lived to tell about it. Let the perfectly poached egg's yolk be your sauce -- it's enough.
I hope the man whose shrimp I honestly mistakenly took didn't get an ass kicking by his wife for not bringing home the one thing for which she sent him to the market. Can't you do anything right?!
Yes, you can -- make this dish.