Sunday, January 11, 2009

Recipe: Pork Chops in Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce with Bacon Pea Polenta

I am always looking for new recipes for pork chops. They're economical and versatile. This one I came across in Racheal Ray's Big Orange Book. I was actually looking for a recipe with polenta, and this caught my eye. It is definitely a keeper. It sounds fancy, but it is very easy to make. I had a little problem with it, but it wasn't the recipe's fault, it was my own impatience. See, I confess when I mess up. But more on that later. I will definitely make it again, so I can perfect it. Below is the recipe, with my little changes.

3 Tbsps olive oil
4 (1-inch-thick) bone-in pork chops
salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch of scallions, 3/4 cut into 1-inch pieces and the rest chopped
4 strips of smoky bacon, chopped (I used turkey bacon because that is what I eat, but whatever you like)
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar (If you don't have this or can't find it, like me, just use half distilled white vinegar and half dry white wine.)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 (28 ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (I loved these. It was my first time using them and I definitely will use them more often.)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup frozen peas (Racheal's recipe calls for more, but I thought it was too much.)
1 cup quick-cooking polenta
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and sear them in the hot pan until they're golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan onto a plate and cover with foil. To the same pan, add the garlic and scallions. (You may want to lower the heat before you add the garlic, so it doesn't burn.) Cook until the scallions are tender, about 3 minutes.

While the scallions cook, heat the remaining Tbsp of oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the chopped bacon and cook until crispy, 5 to 6 minutes.

Once the scallions are tender, add the vinegar, brown sugar, and tomatoes to the pan. Bring the sauce to a bubble and return the pork chops to the pan. Lower the heat to a simmer. Finish cooking the pork chops in the sauce, 3 to 4 minutes.

When the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon and reserve. Pour off all but about a Tbsp of the rendered fat, add the chicken stock, milk, peas and remaining chopped scallions to the pot, and bring everything up to a bubble. Now this is where I had some trouble. Let the liquid come to a bubble over the medium heat or turn it up just a little. Be patient. Unlike me who cranked it to almost high and then all of a sudden it was boiling furiously and boiled over unto my flat-top stove, which I am still scrubbing clean. And then when I added the polenta it cooked to fast and wasn't as smooth as it should've, and could've been. So, when it comes to a gentle bubble, whisk constantly, gradually adding the polenta to the pot and cook, still whisking, until the polenta has thickened up, 2 to 3 minutes. Season the polenta with salt and pepper and stir in the parmesan cheese and reserved bacon.

Serve the polenta alongside the chops and top with tomato sauce. Serves 4.

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