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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sunday Supper: Smoked Pork Chops on Vegetable Polenta

Here's a hearty Sunday supper of thick Vermont smoked pork chops and savory vegetable polenta. 
Quick to prepare, so you can get out and enjoy the day.

Quite a lot going on here..
We've  just seen the first green grass, signaling the end of Mud Season. But just last week, we had what I hope was our final snow.  It was wet snow, and didn't last long; just enough to let us know...it would be back.

For me, Spring is automatically associated with Ham. I'm sure that the reasons for this go back to either my own early childhood, or what I saw happening with Reynolds Wrap on television back then.  I'm sure I haven't seen an ad for it recently; what happened? 

At any rate, if you happen to be in Proctorsville, Vermont this Sunday, stop by the Grange Hall for the Ham Supper. Doors open at noon. You may see me there, because I am tempted; smoked meat is one of the very best things about Vermont. 

When I moved to Chester five years ago I immediately became a steady customer of another great Proctorsville institution: Singleton's Store, home of not only smoked chops, bacon and ham, but per the sign, also Whiskey, Guns, and Ammo. It's only slightly tongue-in-cheek, because they actually have all of these things in ample supply.

Smoked pork chops are an interesting alternative to ham. They are somewhat less salty, and more lean, too.  This dish is lightning-quick to prepare, because the smoked chops are already cooked; a brief grilling does the job. The polenta is a faster-cooking variety (I hesitate to say instant), which chops 30 minutes off the preparation. 

You could still make it over to the Grange Hall for pie.

Smoked Pork Chops with Vegetable Polenta

Serves Two

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped coarsely
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped coarsely
2 and 1/2 cups water
1 cup Moretti "Lampo" polenta
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

2 thick-cut smoked pork chops, brushed with 1 tablespoon olive oil


1. Place olive oil, onion, carrots and green pepper in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute until vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Set this aside.

2. Boil the water in a saucepan, then sprinkle in the polenta, while stirring constantly with a wire whisk.  Continue whisking until thickened and bubbling; turn heat to low and continue cooking for 4 minutes more.  Keep on stirring all the way through! If it starts to look more like corn bread than smooth polenta, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, stirring it in.

3. Combine cooked polenta with the vegetables in the saute pan, folding together with a spatula to combine. It should be quite thick.  Fold in 2 tablespoons of the butter and the parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Form the polenta into 4-inch disks, 1/2 inch thick.  In a clean saute pan, melt the other 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the polenta disks, allowing them to brown on one side for 5 minutes before flipping to the other side. Finish browning on the second side, then remove to a serving platter in a warm oven.

5. Heat a cast-iron grill pan over high heat, then grill the chops for a total of ten minutes, to both heat completely through and create grill marks. Remove to the platter, topping the polenta.

6. Serve with lots of homemade applesauce, and collect the compliments on this easy but impressive Sunday supper!


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