Sunday, July 5, 2009

Brined Pork Chops with Polenta and Sauteed Mushrooms

I was very excited to use these crimini mushrooms tonight! They really do look like mini-portobellos, no?

I don't know if I can write about this dinner in my normal way. I think it is more suited to narrative. I had this image in my head, of a pork chop sitting on top of a fluffy cloud of polenta with mushrooms scattered around. I set out to create it, never mind that I had never made polenta before. Or eaten it. Whatever. I was just all about trying my hand at a cheap side dish!

I have no idea if my polenta turned out well, since I have nothing to compare it to. How does it look to you? I didn't use any particular recipe; I just read a few and took components from each one. The method was basic: bring a mixture of chicken broth and water to a boil, add the cornmeal a little at a time and whisk like hell. I threw in some Parmesan at the end.

The flavor was good, but I didn't like the texture very much. I can be weird about textures, though, so it might just be my weirdness. It felt...I don't know...gakky. I think I would have preferred it creamier; we'll see if I can get it there with subsequent tries!

I brined the pork chops for about 4 hours before cooking. The brine was super simple: 4 tablespoons kosher salt and 2 tablespoons sugar dissolved in 4 cups of water. I poured it over 3 boneless pork loin chops, each about an inch thick. I was not sure if it would make a difference in the final juiciness factor; I was skeptical due to the short brining time. However, I think it really did help keep the chops moist and flavorful! They were the simplest, tastiest pork chops I have had in a long time.

To cook the chops, I patted them dry with a paper towel after taking them out the brine and trimmed off some of the fat around the edges. I sprinkled each side with a small amount of grill seasoning--a very small amount since I didn't want to risk having them be overly-salty after their brine bath--and quickly seared them in my grill pan for a couple of minutes per side. Then I put them in a 350 degree F oven and left them there for 15 minutes. I don't have a good meat thermometer, but they were firm with a little bit of bounciness to the touch and light pink in the middle when I took them out. Perfectly done pork in my opinion!

The mushrooms were very easy. I cut 8 ounces of creminis into quarters and threw them in a hot pan with some olive oil and a bunch of minced garlic. I seasoned with some kosher salt and sauteed them until they had cooked down and released their juices, about 7 or 8 minutes. I added a splash of dry sherry and 3/4 cup of chicken broth to the pan and let them simmer at low heat until all of the liquid evaporated. They sat on the back burner while I was fussing with the polenta and chops, so it must have been about 40 minutes until all of the liquid was gone. They were the perfect accompaniment to the polenta: concentrated and rich with a lovely deep, almost meaty flavor.

Rating: This is awesome. It was a hit with me and the hubs.

Hook me up with some polenta secrets, y'all!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

re: polenta, your polenta is too dry. use more water and less grain next time, it should take a while to thicken up and is best still runny and pudding-like when you put it in the bowl.
looks great otherwise.