Monday, October 08, 2007

Will fall stick around? A couple of comfort dishes just in case...

I was a little concerned this weekend... it is October, isn't it? We had record temperatures in the upper 80's and it was so humid. This is not how I remember fall season in Minnesota! We had a good dose of rain overnight as a cold front slowly swept through, so this morning it was very cool outside and dare I say it, the air was actually kind of chilly! I looked at the forecast and it seems we may not even see 60 degrees for the rest of the week - woo!

It seemed like a perfect time for a couple dishes of comfort food for dinner tonight - to begin, we had started with a side of Creamy Polenta with Thyme. I'm not sure why we don't have polenta more often, but I'm determined that it will make a few more appearances after this as it was easy and quite tasty to boot! Adding a little flavor to the background, we used a combination of vegetable broth and water to cook the yellow cornmeal in - you can use all water if you wish though. To avoid clumping, you want to whisk the cornmeal in a slow steady stream - I like to switch to a sturdy wooden spoon for stirring after a few minutes, I feel like I can reach the edges of the pan better this way. The cooking time for the polenta depends on how coarse your cornmeal is - if it is quite coarse, it may take a little longer than stated. You can tell when it is done when the texture is thick, creamy and it feels like it almost wants to pull away from the sides of the pan when you're stirring. For some extra comfort flavor, a couple pats of butter tossed in at the end melt into the steaming polenta and add to its creaminess. Tiny leaves of fresh thyme are stirred in with the butter for a fragrant finish. While we have added Parmesan in the past when we've served polenta, we found that this did not need anything else and was perfect as is. It will thicken and firm up if not served right away; if this happens, stir in just a bit of hot water to loosen it up.

Creamy Polenta with ThymeWhen I was planning the menu this week, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to serve with the polenta above. I asked Jeff what sounded good and he suggested pork tenderloin. Remembering how much we liked the combination of the pork with maple and a hint of heat, I decided on a recipe for Maple-Chili Glazed Pork Medallions.

The first order of business to is cut the long tenderloin into 1" medallions - this greatly speeds up the cooking time. Seasoned with a mixture of chili powder, salt and chipotle pepper for a smoky punch, the medallions are then seared in a couple teaspoons of oil until both sides have started to brown. Apple cider, sweet pure maple syrup and a bit of cider vinegar are poured into the skillet and the combo mixes and mingle until the liquids reduce down enough to glaze the pork. The sweet and mild heat worked so well in this dish - however, we did have a hard time saving the other tender pieces of pork to have for lunch tomorrow. Thankfully we resisted so we can experience this delightful combination again as leftovers!


  1. Mmmmm, polenta, an ultimate comfort food for me. I'll have to give this method a try soon.

  2. I was just thinking about polenta today. I couldn't think of anything to do with it- but I guess you don't have to do much to it, for it to taste delicious.
    You should saute the leftovers. Eh?? Good idea?

  3. You know, I was wondering what to make to serve with my veal stew tonight. Of course, polenta! Thanks. By the way, your blog is my new favorite.

  4. Robyn - we hope you get a chance to try it!

    Emilie - You could as it will be pretty firm from the fridge!

    Elizzie - Thank you!

  5. Chili glazed pork medallions sounds absolutely amazing, I must try it.

  6. Brilynn - Let us know if you give it a try!