Bon Appétit (October 2008)
To celebrate Zach's recent birthday we wanted to cook a nice Sunday evening meal that fit the newly chilly weather.
Bon Appétit's recent feature on "America's Foodiest Small Town" -- Durham-Chapel Hill -- not only made us want to run off and become farmers, but also contained this mouth-watering dish from Piedmont restaurant.
Pork, collard greens and polenta can all be extremely tasty on their own. How well do they work as a combo?
The first of the three recipes is the main event, a pork rib roast. Even in our nation's capital, it is extremely difficult to find a pork rib roast. We went to both Harris Teeter and Whole Foods and neither carried the cut of meat, though Whole Foods said they might have it later in the week. A vendor at our farmer's market advertises as carrying pork rib roasts but was out by the time we arrived.
Searching for this cut of meat once again made us long for a neighborhood butcher. Sigh....
Unable to find a bone-in pork rib roast, we opted for a pork loin roast. The preparation was the same, save for a small change in the cooking time. Using advice from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food, we cooked the pork loin until the internal temperature registered 130 degrees F.
The braised collard greens were a cinch -- sauteed with butter, oil, onion and garlic and then braised in a broth and finished with a red wine vinegar -- making for a simple and delicious side.
The surprise dish here was the creamy polenta.
Confession time: We're not sure where we've been, but we had no idea that polenta and yellow cornmeal are exactly the same thing.
Whisking handfuls of cornmeal into boiling water quickly created a lovely mash that we then enriched with butter and grated parmesan. As the base for this meal, the polenta adds a comforting and creamy warmth.
Once combined, the resulting dish -- a moist, tender pork with a flavorful jus, nearly sweet collard greens, and creamy polenta -- was truly outstanding.
Give this three-recipe, one-dish sensation a try.
* 16 cups water, divided
* 1 cup coarse kosher salt
* 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
* 1 small onion, quartered
* 1 small head of garlic, unpeeled, halved crosswise
* 3 fresh thyme sprigs
* 2 bay leaves
* 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
* 1 6-rib pork rib roast (about 4 pounds)
* 1 cup low-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
* 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
* Braised Collard Greens
* Creamy Polenta
Combine 8 cups water and next 7 ingredients in large pot. Bring to boil, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Add 8 cups water. Chill brine uncovered until cold, about 2 hours. Place one 2-gallon resealable plastic bag inside another 2-gallon resealable plastic bag. Place pork in doubled bags. Pour brine over pork. Seal bags; place in roasting pan. Chill overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove pork from brine; discard brine. Rinse pork, then drain and pat dry. Sprinkle pork generously with pepper. Heat heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork roast to skillet and cook until browned on all sides, turning frequently, about 6 minutes. Transfer pork to roasting pan.
Roast pork until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meat registers 145°F, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove pork from oven; let rest 15 minutes (internal temperature will increase by 5 to 10 degrees). Transfer pork to platter. Add broth and vinegar to roasting pan; set pan over 2 stovetop burners and bring pan juices to boil, scraping up browned bits. Season with salt and pepper. Cut pork crosswise into chops. Transfer to plates; spoon pan juices over. Serve with Braised Collard Greens and Creamy Polenta.
* 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 3 garlic cloves, chopped
* 2 pounds collard greens, Swiss chard, or broccoli rabe (rapini), thick stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
* 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
* 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Melt butter with vegetable oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add greens and sauté until beginning to wilt. Stir in broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until greens are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
* 4 cups water
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
* 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bring 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt to boil in heavy large saucepan. Gradually whisk in polenta; whisk constantly until mixture is smooth and begins to thicken. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until tender and thickened but still creamy, stirring often, about 30 minutes. Stir in butter and Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
TEST-KITCHEN TIP: Cornmeal cooks faster than polenta, so if replacing the polenta with cornmeal, cook it about half as long.