Monday, June 16, 2008

Two-corn polenta and a kicked up pork tenderloin...

Tonight's side, Two-Corn Polenta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Cheese, originally called for instant polenta (which is perfectly acceptable!), but we have really grown to love using coarse (stone-ground) cornmeal. Yes, it adds quite a bit of time over the instant version, but the texture and flavor that develops is well received.

If you are short on time and opt for instant polenta, you'll want to add it and the fresh corn at the time same. It should take about 5 minutes before it thickens up enough and then you can continue on with the recipe. Our twist took about 25 minutes or so - if it looks like the cornmeal mixture is getting too thick, don't be afraid to stir in a little extra broth or water to loosen it up. After the corn kernels have been added and heated through, the polenta's flavor is heightened by the final addition of sharp Parmesan cheese as it melts into the steaming cornmeal. To liven it up and add a fresh note, we placed chopped tomatoes and shreds of basil (our plants are finally up to snuff and we have started harvesting the leaves!) in the center of each individual portion.

We mentioned last week when we made that Pineapple-Stuffed Jerk Chicken we thought the spice could have been a little more intense. Well, we ran with the idea and decided to try it out on this Jerk Pork Tenderloin as our protein of choice for dinner.

Rather than a simple spice rub, this uses a more pungent marinade consisting of (get ready!) chopped scallions, serrano chiles, soy sauce, fresh lime juice, allspice, garlic, sugar, thyme, cinnamon, ground ginger and fresh grated nutmeg... whew! If you enjoy that tingling heat from chiles, go ahead and leave most of the seeds in the serranos when you chop them. We kept them all and it wasn't blow-your-head off hot for us, but there was a pleasant burn. If you're feeling especially dangerous, replace them with a halved (and seeded!) Scotch bonnet.

A trimmed pork tenderloin is added to the marinade and we left it to chill out for roughly 8 or 9 hours in the refrigerator. When you are ready to grill it, remove it from the marinade and let the excess liquid drip away. We then drizzled the pork with a little canola oil and let it cook just until the center retained a pink hue to ensure it stayed moist. As we frequently mention, be sure to let the tenderloin rest so the juices have a chance to redistribute back into the meat and won't gush out when you start slicing. Jeff and I thought this was hands-down better in the flavor department compared to that chicken recipe with the allspice captivating our senses. If you've never had allspice, it is reminiscent of cloves, with a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and a mild peppery heat. I've seen several recipes that call for just a jerk-seasoned rub, but this piquant marinade allowed those racy flavors to penetrate deep into the pork. I think we'll turn the leftovers into a fun wrap or sandwich for lunch tomorrow!


  1. mmm I've been craving Polenta since I went to an Italian restaurant a few months ago! I may have try make this for dinner one night!

  2. The polenta looks amazing. I like the addition of the whole corn. The basil and tomatoes are great too.

  3. Christine - It is so easy to make at home... give it a try!

    Eat! - Thanks!