Pork & Pears with Creamy Polenta

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Succulent and juicy slow-roasted pork, aromatic spices & creamy, dreamy polenta ~ this dish is the ultimate in comfort food, making it the perfect dinner for cold winter nights.

The combination of Pork & Pears was inspired by a dish made a while back by Poh Ling Yeow on her TV Show 'Poh & Co'.
Poh is pretty much my modern day hero, she took over where Jamie Oliver and Nigella left off. She kicks butt in the kitchen, grows beautiful homegrown produce and creates stunning artwork, all while running her cafe 'Jamface by Poh' at Adelaide Central Markets with her husband, bestie and ex-husband (who are now married, but that's another story) - I mean, what a legend!  On the particular day that I had a craving for Pork & Pears, I couldn't locate Poh's recipe online so I made up my own.  

Don't be fooled by the amount of steps included in the method below, this recipe is really easy to throw together and pretty much cooks itself while you focus on other things. If you wanted an even easier version, you could serve the pork on creamy mashed potato, but I personally prefer polenta. 

Pork & Pears with Creamy Polenta


Serves 2

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Ingredients

Pork & Pears
2 large pork chops
2 pears, cut into halves
2 spanish onions, peeled and cut into quarters
4 star anise
2 large sprigs rosemary, leaves only
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 teaspoons butter
4 teaspoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Polenta
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups milk
1 cup polenta
1 tablespoons butter
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Method

1.  Preheat oven to 220⁰C (200⁰C fan forced). 
2. Line a large roasting dish with foil and drizzle in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
3. Add pear halves (skin side down), onions, star anise, rosemary. and half the fennel seeds.

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4. Place the pork chops on top, drizzle with remaining olive oil and rub with cumin seeds, remaining fennel seeds and season with salt and pepper. 


5. Place roasting dish (uncovered) into preheated oven and roast for 10 minutes.
6. Remove roasting dish from oven and add 1 teaspoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of brown sugar on to each piece of pear. This is a bit fiddly with the pork sitting on top but don't get too hung up on perfection, just try to get a bit of butter and a bit of sugar on each piece of fruit. Add the apple cider vinegar, then cover the dish with foil. Turn the oven down to 160⁰C (140⁰C fan forced) and return tray to oven for a further 1 ½ hours.
7. When there is 15 minutes remaining on the clock, take the roasting dish out of the oven and remove the foil (don't throw the foil out!). Take the pork out of the tray and wrap it in the foil to rest, then place the tray back into the oven, while you get on with the polenta. 
8. To prepare the polenta: in a medium-sized saucepan, bring vegetable stock and milk to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and gradually stir in polenta, whisking constantly for 5 minutes to avoid lumps.
9. Add butter and parmesan cheese and stir well. Remove from the heat and set aside. 
10. Take the roasting dish out of the oven and strain the roasting juices into a heatproof jug. If needed, reheat the sauce on the cooktop in a small saucepan, or in the microwave.

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12. To plate up, put a generous dollop of polenta on the plate. Nestle two pears in the polenta and then top with pork chop. Drizzle with sauce and serve. This dish also goes really well with a side of charred broccolini or steamed greens.