Week 2, Meal 1: Thyme-crusted roasted pork over Gruyere polenta with caramelized pear, shallot and ginger pan sauce

One of my favorite things to eat is polenta (aka corn grits). It’s hearty, creamy and goes great with cheese, so really, what’s not to love?

Well, the cooking process, actually. I’ve always cooked polenta according to the directions on the package, but never ended up with anything as creamy and fulfilling as the results of Chef Brian’s recipe.

Here is Week 2, Meal 1: Thyme-crusted roasted pork over Gruyere polenta with caramelized pear, shallot and ginger pan sauce.

Grits gooey with nutty Gruyere, ginger-spiked pear chunks and juicy pork. Now that’s whassup.

The Recipe (Yield: 2 servings)

Marinated pork (used for this meal and Week 2, Meal 2)
2 1-lb. pork loin or 4 6-8 oz. pork chops
1 t olive oil
1 t chopped thyme
salt and pepper, to taste

Caramelized pear, shallot, and ginger pan sauce
1 large shallot, sliced
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 d’anjou pear, 1/2 inch dice
1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced (or 1 t canned grated ginger)
1 cup pear nectar (Kern’s is available at most stores)
1 cup chicken stock
1 t chopped thyme

Gruyere Polenta
3/4 cup fat-free or low-fat milk
3/4 cup water
3 T polenta
2 oz. grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 t salt
salt and pepper, to taste

This is a recipe where the steps and timing matter to make sure everything is finished around the same time. So with that in mind, the first thing you should do is throw all of your pork in a plastic bag and coat it evenly with 1 t olive oil, 1 t chopped thyme and salt and pepper, to taste.

Preheat your oven to 400F and leave the pork on the side once you’ve seasoned it so you can get started on the polenta.

In a medium saucepan, bring 3/4 cup of water and 3/4 cup of milk to a light boil. Add in 3 T of polenta and 1/2 t of salt and reduce heat to medium-low. Whisk for 1 to 2 minutes. Switch heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The mixture will thicken into a porridge. Mix in 2 oz. of Gruyere and season with salt and pepper as a final step. Remove from heat or keep on the “warm” setting if your burner has one.

While the grits are cooking you should throw another pan on the stove, this one on high, and brown each side of your pork until it develops a nice crust on all sides. The oil we already put on the pork should be enough to get you through. If you’re cooking in a pan that can also be used in the oven, do so, and bake your pork in the same pan for 8 to 10 minutes on the center rack. The meat should feel mostly firm and have only a slightly pink center like at the picture at top.

While the pork is in the oven, slice 1 large shallot and dice up 1 pear. When the pork gets out of the oven, remove the meat from the pan and put the pan back on the burner on medium.

Throw in the shallots and cook in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes; the moisture in the shallots will begin to break up the brown bits (where all the flavor is). In goes the 2 T of apple cider vinegar, but be careful. This stuff is going to smell pretty bad when it’s cooking. Use a spatula to scrape up the rest of the brown bits and reserve the onions in a bowl on the side (More: How to deglaze a pan).

Saute the diced  pear in 1 T of olive oil. Once it softens and browns, add 1 t of ginger.

Finally, add 1 cup of pear nectar, 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 t of chopped thyme and reduce on high heat until the sauce thickens and most of the liquid is cooked out.

To serve, plate 3/4 cup of polenta and lay your slices of pork over it. Spoon your sauce over the pork and dig in.

The pear and ginger have this sweet/spiced thing going on, and sauce, while sweet with pear juice, is also savory and herb-y to compliment the mellow, nutty polenta. The thyme on the pork ties it all together.


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5 thoughts on “Week 2, Meal 1: Thyme-crusted roasted pork over Gruyere polenta with caramelized pear, shallot and ginger pan sauce”

  1. Your food porn drives me insane. Thanks for teaching me how to deglaze! I learned once, but could never remember. Definitely gonna try this recipe soon!
    Oh and, you should try some of the apple cider they have around here (Mass). Apples are all the rage around here, and I know exactly why. They’re incredible.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Inez! I really appreciate it, especially because I’m just starting out and really trying to build a following.

      Hoping other people will notice too. =)

      I feel like I was able to take everything I learned at Food Frenzy and now I’m able to do something similar, but in a completely different way, but useful for where I’m at in my life now.

      Anyways, I’ll stop rambling, but all of us local food bloggers should get back together again soon and hang out. Or just make Cynthia throw another party for us.

      1. Seriously love it. Keep it up! Also, I am totally down for a local food blogger gathering of sorts, although I’m moving up to Santa Barbara in the next few weeks (going to work at a food PR agency there)… But if you and Nadia ever vacation there, hit me up! I promise there will be good wine involved. đŸ˜€

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