Sage & Balsamic Pork with Creamy Pumpkin Polenta

Yeesh! Two days without cooking/baking really makes me miss being in a kitchen! It's been a hectic past few days with wrapping up my last days at work in the corporate world and settling into the suburbs where we have been slowly moving into the past few months. On top of that, I'm fighting a sinus infection and my sense of smell is pretty shot. However I'm back in the kitchen for the next few days so I can catch up and get some kitchen therapy.

This past Sunday I participated in a culinary fundraiser for Haiti, Stir It 28, and here's one of the dishes I prepared for the event - Sage & Balsamic Pork with Creamy Pumpkin Polenta. This was a recipe I got from Rachel Ray's cookbook, 365: No Repeats. I had planned on making this dish for quite some time but it kept getting pushed back for months due to various reasons. Probably the main reason was because the hubby wasn't in the mood for pumpkin or polenta or preparing pork with sage - gah! When this fundraiser came up, I took the opportunity to finally make it and it was well worth the wait.

I don't cook with polenta often but making it with pureed pumpkin was a fabulous way to give it additional flavor and a gorgeous color. As for the pork, it really absorbed the sweet flavors of balsamic and the woodsy notes of fresh sage. Paired together with the pumpkin polenta, it was a great dish that complimented all the flavors. Although the flavors may be reminiscent offall, I think it's delicious even in the winter too!

Sage & Balsamic Pork
recipe adapted from Rachel Ray

3 T olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/4 c fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
salt & pepper
4 1 1/2 inch thick boneless center-cut pork chops, cut into bite sized chunks

In a large plastic storage bag, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sage, parsley, garlic, salt & pepper. Cut the pork chops into bite sized chunks and place in the storage bag with the other ingredients. Allow the pork to marinate overnight.

When ready to prepare, preheat oven to 375.

Place the pork and marinade in a baking dish and bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes before serving. Serve with the pumpkin polenta (recipe follows).

Creamy Pumpkin Polenta
recipe adapted from Rachel Ray

2 1/2 c chicken stock or broth
1 c milk
1 c canned pumpkin puree
1/8 t ground nutmeg
3/4 c quick-cooking polenta
1/2 c grated parmigiano-reggiano
2 T unsalted butter

In a sauce pot combine chicken stock, milk & pumpkin & season with nutmeg, salt & pepper. Place over high heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the polenta and stir until it begins to mass together. Add the grated cheese and butter, stirring to combine. Keep in mind that polenta is very forgiving. If it becomes too think, not smooth & creamy, you can always add more warm chicken stock or milk.

Garnish the polenta with extra cheese if you wish.

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