A new week, a new roster of dishes from Everyday Food magazine’s “Grocery Bag” feature, which provides you with an E-Z shopping list that contains everything you’ll need for five days’ worth of meals. (And, for me, leftovers for lunch the next day.)
But this week I noticed something … not right about the plan. The dinner they scheduled for Friday involves asparagus, which is best at its freshest, not after five days in the crisper. So I rejiggered the order of the dishes so I can enjoy the vegetable when it’s closer to peak flavor.
(However, since that recipe involves the leftover polenta from tonight’s dish, it still had to wait until tomorrow. In the interim, it’s stored standing upright in a shallow dish of water, sort of like you would do with flowers. If you don’t have the vertical space, I guess wrapping it in a damp paper towel and then a plastic bag would be the second-best option.)
Cost of ingredients: $17.53. I already had olive oil, sherry vinegar, butter, and salt and pepper.
Substitutions: Since instant polenta was the only thing available at my grocery store, I opted for that. And a package of four pork chops instead of a tenderloin (which, again, costs twice as much). That way I didn’t bother with hacking it to “medallion”-sized bits. And red chard instead of Swiss chard — they may technically be the same thing, just different formulations.
As easy as they said? The instant polenta threw me for a loop — the box instructions say it only requires water, whereas the Everyday Food recipe calls for milk and chicken broth. How different can ground-up corn be in its formulations? In the end, I opted to use the milk and broth, since I had bought them. (It also took three minutes, instead of the 20-odd specified in the recipe.) A note: Do not warm up this liquid in a covered pot, because suddenly it will decide “YES, I AM READY” and whoosh! Suddenly you’ve got milky foam all over your cooktop.
Also, I wish that the lovely folks at EF had mentioned at the ingredients phase that they expect you to add the chopped-up stems of the chard at one point, and then the leaves later on. Most of us would probably dump them all into one bowl at the food prep stage … and then stand there a little bit later, cursing while we try to pick out all the stems while leaving the leaves in the bowl.
How’d THAT go over? I had been a little concerned about the sheer bulk of onion I was tossing into the pan, but after they reduced down, there was no strong ONION! taste to be suffered through. My polenta ended up on the starchy, quickly-congealing side, which is probably thanks to using the instant kind, so it did need the kick that the greens and onions provided. (I also skipped the butter, since I figured I had already used a lot of milk.
Since they don’t list the recipe on the website yet, here’s the drill: Season the chops with course salt and ground pepper, fry in a little olive oil for 4-6 minutes each side, then remove to a plate and cover with foil. Cook onions and chard stems in same pan with a little oil until soft, then add leaves, some sherry vinegar, about a cup of chicken broth and the pork with juices, then cook some more until almost all liquid is evaporated. (Meanwhile, cook polenta in another pot. If you’re not planning on cooking Dish #2 later, you don’t have to save 4 cups like I did.)
Would I make it again? Sure. It’s one of those dishes I’m also excited about taking to work tomorrow as leftovers.
|WHAT SAM WORE: 03-1-10|
|The sweater: Merino wool vest from Gap,
another hand-me-down from my friend and neighbor James.
|The shirt: Long-sleeved button-up shirt by Ben Sherman, from Macy’s.
I bought this with the “thank you” gift card I got for hosting a men’s
fashion event for them at the Biltmore Fashion Park store back in the Trib days.
|The pants: Jeans by Ben Sherman, another hand-me-down from James.|
| The shoes: Leather slip-ons (oh my god, are these some form of clog?)
by Bacco Bucci, from Last Chance.