Poached Eggs on Polenta and…The Opportunist

I have a sister with three primary school aged children living in a quiet suburban street in the Eastern Suburbs.  It’s a great street because it’s full of houses with families of children of similar ages and so the children have all become great friends and spend a lot of time playing outside on the road and on the wide grassy strip that divides the street.

Poached Eggs on Polenta and English Spinach

Three times a year the Council provides Council Clean-Up Day and so the residents pull up the roller doors that open on to their rear lanes and put out all the paraphernalia they wish to be rid of.

It’s been their experience that as soon as their old lamps, burnt out heaters, rusted electric frying pans, mouldy plastic toys and three-wheeled prams are out on the rear lane, couples drive up in white utes (it’s always white utes), disembark in matching tracksuits and sift through the piles of stuff, collecting what has been discarded and piling it into the already over-stuffed tray table of the white ute.

One Saturday morning and three days before the scheduled Council Clean-Up my sister’s two boys were outside the front of their house and playing on their bikes and scooters with their friends from the street.  At some point they put down their equipment and played in the park across the road, just 10 metres from where they left their shiny new toys.

As they were playing an opportunist in a white ute (it’s always white utes) came trawling along the street, saw the brand new bikes and scooters, screeched to a holt, ran out, threw the shiny new toys into the back of his ute and took off.  You would think he could have stopped to ask if they were meant for the Council Clean-Up given they were at the front of the house and not in the rear lane, were brand new and that the owners were within a few metres of their equipment.

My brother-in-law threw his hands in the air and decided that the bikes and scooters were gone for good but my sister was ready to put up a fight.  She put her kids in the back of the car, drove off and started looking for white utes.  She couldn’t find any.  She arrived home to find her husband relaxing over a comforting breakfast and a read of the paper.  She let him know it wasn’t over and went into the rear lane dragging more old lamps, heaters, electric frying pans, plastic toys and three-wheeled prams into the lane way and sat with a book waiting to see what would turn up.

A lovely Sunday brunch

Sure enough and within the hour, the opportunist in the white ute returned.  He pulled up in the rear lane with the bikes and scooters still propped up on the back tray.  As he rifled through the free blessings my sister sprang to her feet and accosted him, letting him know he had stolen bikes from children who were playing not far from where they had left them and didn’t he think it was unusual for two shiny new bikes and two sparkling scooters to be given up for free to any passerby?

The opportunist was shocked to be sure but it was his greed that was his downfall.  Had he been satisfied with two bikes and two scooters he would have hung on to his bounty.  My sister’s husband came out to assist removing his boys’ bikes and scooters from the ute and let the opportunist know he could not have any of the goods on the nature strip because they weren’t actually blessings up for grabs but instead were part of an elaborately hatched plan to trap him.

The opportunist drove off empty handed.

My sister had a smile of satisfaction on her face for the rest of the weekend.

Poached Eggs on Polenta and Baby Spinach

On weekends when you don’t have to hunt down opportunists in white utes, you have time to create a wonderful, nourishing breakfast.  Here’s a vegetarian breakfast that uses chicken stock but you could substitute a meat-free alternative.

Poached Eggs on Polenta with Baby Spinach

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  This is a very inexpensive meal with polenta costing just a few dollars for 500gms and after that it’s just the cost of eggs and the baby spinach.

  • 1 ltr chicken stock (or vegetable stock to make the dish vegetarian)
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 30gms butter
  • 1 tbspn white vinegar
  • 8 organic eggs
  • large handful of baby spinach leaves

Warm serving plates – just because breakfast is better that way.

In a medium-sized saucepan heat chicken stock to boiling.  Gradually add polenta, whisking as it is added.  (Be careful not to add it too quickly or polenta will be lumpy).  Continue to whisk while polenta thickens (about 5 mins).  Whisk in butter and parmesan cheese.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large pan of water to boiling point then reduce to a simmer.  Add vinegar to water.  Stir the water so it is moving in a circular motion.  Crack an egg into a saucer then slide into the water.  Continue with remaining eggs.

Place a mound on polenta on serving plates.  Add spinach leaves.  Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and try to drain off excess water.  Place eggs on top of spinach and polenta.  Season with salt and pepper.

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  1. The only time I ever experimented with polenta was a major fail – this looks like a great savory combination though!

  2. No polenta …. simply no polenta … I know I want you to be my neighbor, but polenta is against my constitution. No polenta.

  3. What a crafty sister to catch that thief. I like the idea of that Council Clean-up Day, allowing still usable “stuff” to be recycled.

  4. Your sister is a smart one — and brave!  These eggs looks very appealing.

  5. Green Dragonette says:


    Excellent-so good to hear good won out in the end-and I do
    like the sound of that dish!!

  6. As soon as I get baby spinach, this is going to be on a plate.  Thanks for posting this.

  7. Poached eggs are everywhere, but on a bed of polenta? Genius. I need, need, need this in my life!

  8. I’m glad your sister got the bikes back with that clever and well executed plan. We were at the cottage this weekend and I missed commenting, but will go back to catch up.
    It’s funny you call them utes, we call them SUVs (sport utility vehicles)!
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com

  9. Niasunset says:

    I have never cooked like that this spinach but this is so beautiful and so delicious. Thank you dear Charlie, it is a wonderful idea. Love, nia

  10. Penny/lifeonthecutoff says:

    I’ve been on a bit of a poached egg binge lately and will love to try this, having not thought of the spinach/polenta usage. Yum! 

  11. He, he, love the story and your sister’s determination! And poached eggs make everything better:)

  12. Love reading this post…. I am glad your sister got the bikes back…
    Yayy to her determination…

    I love poach eggs, have to try this recipe with them…

  13. Gian Banchero says:

    Kudos, kudos, kudos to your sister, great story, thanks for the share!!!!

  14. Darcieporter says:

    Yay for your sister!!  And your poached eggs look divine…no time for breakfast this morning, and now I want this.  Can you deliver?  ha ha

  15. what a woman your sister!!!! How great that she got everything back!

  16. Rocky Mountain Woman says:


    your sister is brilliant!

  17. Choc Chip Uru says:

    Your sister has the brains of a mastermind – good on her! What an awesome mum 😀
    And a delicious breakfast recipe to wrap up an awesome good-beating-greed post!
    Thanks my friend 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  18. Hi,
    That was brilliant how your sister got back the kids bikes, good on her, and you are spot on about the greed, 🙂

    A great dish, looks delicious.

  19. Haha oh you have a very clever sister. I would have done something similar. How satisfying it must have been!
    Poached eggs are on my list of things to learn how to make in the near future. 

  20. How clever of your sister!  Greed is such an ugly thing…

    Great looking recipe.  I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy poached eggs.  Thanks!

  21. InTolerant Chef says:

    Brilliant trap! I’m so very impressed with your sister indeed! I also think she should inform the council, as that sounds like straight theft to me.
    Poached eggs are my absolute favourites, these certainly look sublime!

  22. GourmetGetaway says:

    I think everyone has the same experience with the council pickups.  The great thing for us is that we got to put out about three times the quantity of rubbish as others kept coming and collecting it! WIN! Love the recipe, something nice and healthy 🙂

  23. Then there is the other opportunist of course – who arrives in the middle of the night and dumps his reject stuff on your front lawn – and quite often has the effrontery (when his bin is overflowing with his own weekly rubbish) drives around the neighbourhood until he finds yours with space and turfs his lot in (a favourte trick around Xmas)

  24. Good on your sister! She had good reason to smile.

    I love the look of this meal and you are the second person in a week to remind me I need to start buying polenta, to make all the polenta recipes I have tucked away!

  25. Nic@diningwithastud says:

    Gorgeous dish! I would never have thought to pair the two.
    It is well obvious that he knew he had stolen them. Im glad your sister got them back 😀

  26. Your sister is one tough cookie!  Good for her! 

  27. Well done to your sister!
    I refer to the nature strip as the magic portal, you put something on it and it magically disappears, sometimes before you have even got back up the driveway.

  28. I’m a huge fan of poached eggs and baby spinach. Looks like a great breakfast/brunch meal (or even dinner!). 

  29. Haha that’s an awesome plan! Our area’s not that bad in terms of people taking stuff you leave on the nature strip – what’s REALLY annoying is when you hire a skip and the whole street decides to use it too!

  30. we used to live in a neighborhood like that without the opportunist tho… and im glad because that would be a bummer because all i wanna do is just to sit down and enjoy the poached eggs and baby spinach for breakfast. 😉
    thanks for sharing the story and the dish!

  31. Oh gosh, I adore poached eggs, spinach, and polenta. And cheese! Hand me a plate of this and some Tabasco and I’d be set 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Now there’s an idea. Next time I’ll try it with some tabasco. It works well with bacon too! xx

  32. ChgoJohn says:

    Good for your Sister! Those kids must have been heartbroken when they discovered their bikes were gone.

    I make a ton of polenta but never have I thought to top it with poached eggs. This sounds delicious, Charlie, and is one breakfast I’m sure to make. 

  33. mmmmmmm looks so good!

  34. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    Haha some people are shameless aren’t they!

  35. Haha @ the ute driver coming back – how lucky! (well, not for him)

    Polenta + poached eggs = winning.

  36. Anna @ the shady pine says:

    Your sister is a sure legend….if it were me I would be gloating for a long time to come!

  37. Dear Charlie,

    Some people are just too much!! Well done to your sister for persisting the second time round. These eggs look perfectly cooked although I would need my few strips of bacon to do them justice 🙂

  38. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Good for your sister!  Lovely idea to serve poached eggs on spinach and polenta.  Scrumptious.
    🙂 Mandy

  39. A mom on a mission! I love it. Good for her. 🙂

  40. Woohooo good on her. Man I would have been pissed off and hunted him down too. I am always telling my kids not to leave their stuff on the street – now I am going to make them read this post to back me up! xx

  41. As usual, I love your story, Charlie. This reminds me of one of my moving stories. Dear hubby and I were moving so we called a company to come and pick up some “stuff” that we didn’t know what to do with. They told us to put it out on the curb at a certain time so they could come and get. Within minutes, passerbys started stopping and grabbing our stuff. It was frustrating and hilarious, at the same time. My husband spent hours running outside to shoo people away while we waited for the “late” company that was coming to pick up.

  42. Haha, great plan – nice “honeypot” to catch the guy 😀 I can imagine the look on his face!!!

    Fantastic looking brunch Charlie – can’t beat eggs 🙂

  43. Very interesting its like eggs florentine but in polenta, will definitely try this one out

  44. Yes Charlie, I love top see things get recycled but some of these guys are vultures. They are so used to do there swoops. Good on your sister. 

  45. I came here through Maureen (http:orgasmicchef.com). She is right…you tell beautiful stories 🙂 And I love reading. I am going to plant myself here until I have read all the stories.

  46. It’s crazy how some people can be so ‘greedy’! Thank gosh your sister was able to get her children’s bikes back ~ so glad that person didn’t get away with it!!! I love Sunday brunches hehe 😀 woo hoo! I haven’t had polenta before but would love to try 🙂 


  1. […] Yes, we’re getting together for lunch very soon so I’m making all the right noises.  Oh, you might remember her as being the one who laid a trap for the bicycle thief. Brandied Fruit […]

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