After years of wondering what polenta tastes like and being too much of a chicken to attempt making it myself for fear of it ending up like cold oatmeal and ruining our dinner, I took the plunge last night. As I was perusing through my new cookbook, Everyday Food: Great Food Fast, looking for something to accompany my parmesan-crusted pork chops (Giada De Laurentiis), I stumbled upon a basic polenta recipe. I had heard that you can make polenta either with polenta (duh) or cornmeal and this recipe accomodated the lack of polenta in my pantry. Cornmeal it was! OK, so true polenta aficionatos might say that I didn’t make polenta, but throw me a bone here!

The outcome of the whole meal was fantastic! The pork chops were just as everyone on my cooking board has raved about – tender…flavorful…delicious. The polenta surpassed my expectations and I think I really surprised Kyle as well – he just about licked the plate clean! I can’t wait to find out what REAL polenta tastes like!!

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops (each about 10 to 12 ounces)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

Note: Even over medium heat, the chops browned quickly, leaving the centers uncooked. I finished them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees in the same pan I used for the stove-top cooking, which was oven-safe of course.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20-25 minutes Serves 4

Soft Polenta

source: Martha Stewart, Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

  • 3/4 cup cornmeal or polenta (not quick-cooking)
  • 4 cups water (I used 2 cups water, 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (I used Kosher)
  • 1/8 freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp butter

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring 4 cups water with 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to a boil. Very gradually, add cornmeal in a thin stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Reduce heat to medium-low (low was hot enough); simmer, whisking often, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter and cheese until smooth.

Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 10-12 minutes Serves: 4

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  • flymansWife
    August 10, 2007 at 2:18 AM

    the porkchops look so good! DH doesn’t really like pork but he might just have to suck it up one of these nights so I can try them! 🙂

  • Cara
    August 10, 2007 at 2:18 AM

    I’ve never made “real” polenta either – just the cornmeal stuff. but hey, it works for me! It really does make a great side dish or base for ingredients and can be flavored in so many ways. My favorite is pumpkin and sage!