Since my first foray into the world of non-cured pork went so swimmingly, I decided to get tricksy and go for a second shot. This time, I changed basically everything except the cooking method. And y'know what? I liked them better the other way.
Balsamic and Sage Pork Chops with ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS PUMPKIN POLENTA!!!!
Recipe calls for 4 1-1/2 inch thick boneless center-cut pork chops. What you need to do, in my opinion, is get them with the bone in. Or, in retrospect, maybe just go for the thickness which the recipe recommends, which might have been my mistake.
You heat up olive oil in a big skillet. Meanwhile, you preheat your oven to 375.
Drizzle about 2 tablespoons (a few big glugs if all your measuring spoons are *cough* dirty) of balsamic vinegar in a bowl, as well as dropping in a chopped up garlic clove (or a shallot if *cough* for the first time in history, you find yourself out of garlic), 5 or so chopped up sage leaves, and some chopped up parsley. Drizzle in some olive oil too. Sprinkle in some salt, and some pepper of course.
About this time, also put about 2 and a half cups of chicken stock(or vegetable stock), and a cup of milk into a saucepot. Add some salt and pepper. Open a can of pumpkin PUREE (NOT pumpkin pie filling!!!!!) and add it into the milk/stock mixture. Stir and put it over hte heat until it starts to simmer. While it's getting all warm and friendly, swirl your pork chops around in the balsamic/garlic/herb mixture, and drop them in your skillet with your olive oil. Sear them for about 2 minutes on each side. After your 4 minutes are up, you're going to want to put them in the oven for a few minutes, until they're cooked through.
Just before you put the chops in the oven, pour a box of quick-cooking polenta into your stock/milk/pumpkin mixture. Whisk like crazy, and then put your chops in the oven in your skillet (wrap the handle in tinfoil, or even better, get a silicone skillet-handle-cover like I did!!!). Whisk whisk whisk and when it starts to get thick, add butter, parmesan, more salt, more pepper, and my secret best friend for this: ricotta. About a tablespoon of the ricotta. More if it's not creamy enough for you.
I definitely had to add more milk a couple times. Polenta is good like that, though. It will take all the buttery, milky love you give it and absorb it. And it will give you back something even more amazing.
As an aside, I am now a canned-pumpkin convert. I'm probably going to make macaroni and cheese with some really sharp cheddar and pumpkin in the cheese sauce. Yum!! Also, this is a SAVORY DISH, people. Don't go adding any brown sugar, maple syrup, etc. You can do that to your pumpkin pie filling. But your canned pumpkin is a beautiful thing in this polenta.
So basically, you take your chops out when they feel done to you. Mine felt like when I poked them they gave a little and then sprung back. Mine were also pretty anemic pork chops. But that's ok, because it meant I got to eat more polenta!!
In all seriousness, I didn't love the pork chops. They were ok. They were not great. They were too thin and a little dry, because they were so thin. The seasonings were nice. I think, if given the choice, I would have done something involving a creamier sauce, and maybe finished with balsamic instead of marinating them in it. But, for a first try, this created many new ideas and learning opportunities. AND a really bitchin' dish of polenta.
I'm honestly already thinking about ways that I can use this in breakfast tomorrow. Pumpkin porridge. Mix it in wtih our oatmeal. Eat it cold while no one's looking. Cut it into squares and fry it in butter. I don't know. But I officially need more pumpkin polenta in my life.