Pigskin, pork and polenta

January 14, 2001|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Although I am not a football fan, my grown son is. I suggested that for the Super Bowl he serve his friends a casual supper.

This all-in-one entree is robust and satisfying, yet inexpensive and easy to assemble.

Pork with Chilies and Lime Over Cumin-Scented Polenta

Makes 6 servings


6 tablespoons oil, plus more if needed

1 1/2 cups chopped onions

1 cup diced ( 1/2 -inch-cubed) carrots

2 tablespoons (about 2 peppers) minced serrano chili peppers (see Note)

3 pounds boneless pork loin, trimmed of all excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup flour

Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 (28-ounce) can Italian-style plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons lime juice (about 2 limes)

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

6 thin lime wedges for garnish, optional


4 cups chicken stock, plus a little extra if needed

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup milk

Salt, optional

To prepare pork, heat 2 tablespoons oil in deep-sided, heavy pot over medium-high heat. When hot, saute onions and carrots, stirring, 5 minutes. Add serrano chilies and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat and spoon ingredients onto plate.

Place pork in large plastic bag with flour, 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Shake well to coat pork with flour. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons oil or enough to lightly coat bottom of pan. When oil is hot, add enough floured pork cubes to fit comfortably in single layer in pan and brown, turning meat, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Continue cooking pork in batches, adding more oil as needed, until all are browned.

Return pork to pan. Add garlic and cook and toss 1 minute more. Return reserved onions, carrots and peppers to pan. Add tomatoes, lime juice and 4 cups stock and bring mixture to simmer and cook, uncovered, 40 minutes. Then cover and cook until meat is quite tender, 50 to 60 minutes more. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. (Pork can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring.)

To prepare polenta, place 4 cups stock and cumin in large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. When liquid starts to boil, reduce heat and, in thin stream, gradually whisk in cornmeal and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to thicken, 6 to 8 minutes or less. Stir in butter and milk. Taste and add salt if needed. (Polenta can be made 2 days ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over low heat, stirring constantly, and adding additional stock to make polenta looser if needed.)

To serve, spoon generous 1/2 cup polenta into each of 6 shallow soup bowls. Ladle pork stew over polenta. Sprinkle each portion with some cilantro and garnish with lime wedge.

Note: Serrano chili peppers are 1 1/2 -inch-long peppers with slightly pointed ends and are hot in taste. They can be bought green or red (more mature). I used red ones in this recipe. It is best to wear rubber gloves when working with hot peppers. Slice peppers in half, lengthwise, and scrape out and discard seeds and membranes, then chop finely.

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