Crazy local dinner- pork & pepper stew, polenta, creamed greens

Tonight I emptied an entire crisper drawer for one meal. That’s an accomplishment. This meal takes advantage of the wide variety available right now at the farmer’s market- the peppers still going through the long summer, the first of the fall tomatoes and greens, the late summer herbs, and the fantastic local corn grits and goat cheese. It makes me happy to pack so many local products into one meal and it was really delicious.

Pork & pepper stew

3 lb pork butt roast
3-4 red and green sweet peppers, seeded and sliced
4-6 mixed chili peppers, I used long green mild, seeded and sliced
4 cloves fresh garlic, smashed
1 tbl cumin
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c white balsamic vinegar
fresh oregano, parsley, green onions, chives
salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 325. Brown the pork roast in a large dutch oven. Remove the pork and add a little olive oil. Saute peppers and garlic until lightly browned. Add cumin, tomatoes and vinegar and let simmer. Cut the pork roast into big chunks. Don’t kill yourself getting the meat off the bone, just cut around it. Add all the pork, even the meaty bone, a good bit of salt and pepper, stir it all up, cover and put it in the oven for three hours. Add the rest of the herbs just before serving.

Polenta with goat cheese and herbs

About an hour before you pull the stew out of the oven, start on the polenta.

1 c coarse ground corn grits
4 c water
1 tsp salt
1/4 c butter (1/2 stick)
4 oz goat cheese
a big handful of whatever savory herbs you have in the garden: chives, oregano, rigani, thyme, anything, chopped
plenty of pepper and salt

My foolproof polenta method: Start with cold water. Put the 4 cups of cold water in a heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Whisk in the corn grits. Turn the stove on to medium high. Add the salt and butter. Stand there with a beer or a glass of wine and zone out and stir until the pot comes to a full rolling boil. The clap the lid on, turn the stove to low, and leave it alone. Stir every 10-15 minutes but let it simmer on low for as long as possible. The longer it cooks the creamier it will be. Stir in the goat cheese and taste for salt & pepper just before serving.

Polenta ingredients

Creamed Greens

Spinach doesn’t grow well here except in the dead of winter, but you can cook just about any kind of greens this way. Our current favorite is baby tatsoi, but mizuna is good too.

1 pound fresh greens, washed and dried
2 tbl butter
2 cloves fresh garlic, smashed and minced
1/4 to 1/3 c whipping cream
salt & pepper

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium high heat and add the greens. You want an actual saute- keep the heat high enough that the greens wilt but any liquid evaporates immediately. As soon as the greens start sizzling add the garlic. Saute until the greens are fully wilted and any stems are softened, but not mushy. Add the cream and some salt and pepper and stir until the cream starts to bubble. Turn the heat to low and let the cream reduce until it’s thick enough to coat the greens. Taste again and add salt & pepper if needed.

Bringing it all together

Pull the stew out of the oven after the polenta has been cooking for about an hour. Let the stew and polenta rest and cool a little while you make the greens. Serve a big ladleful of stew over the grits with a dollop of sour cream and some fresh chopped parsley, with the creamed greens on the side. Serve it forth!

All items in bold are local.

A note on the photography (or lack of it) I am not a very good photographer yet, and my only camera is my phone right now. I am never happy with food pictures so for right now I’m sticking with photos of ingredients.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *