It’s been raining since I woke up this morning, and last week was a really long one, so all my family wanted to do today was veg at home. A full day at home means time to experiment in the kitchen, and I’m glad I did because we had the perfect cozy dinner tonight, which was much needed since we’re all recovering from a bad cold.
This dinner is the very definition of comfort food you never knew you wanted. The flavors of maple and pumpkin in one savory dinner are unexpected but perfect. Everyone loves a good pork chop, but pumpkin polenta probably sounds a little weird to some of you. I promise it works though, and you’ve got to try it. I already know it’s going to be a new autumn staple for my fam.
This dinner will take a little time to prepare, mostly because polenta takes time to cook. It’s a little less than hour from start to finish, but I know I don’t have that kind of time on a weekday. I recommend making this for a Saturday or Sunday evening meal when you’ve got some time to hang in the kitchen. This could even be a dinner your kids can help you make because it involves lots of stirring! 🙂
To start, begin by making your polenta. In a medium sized saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the polenta, cover, and reduce the heat to simmer. I use Bob’s Red Mill Polenta , but any polenta will do. Allow the polenta to simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring often, until it gets very thick.
While the polenta is cooking, brown your butter in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until dark brown solid pieces begin to form on the bottom. Then, remove the butter from the heat to cool. The browned butter is really a necessary component to this polenta that you can’t skip. It adds a richness and nuttiness to the flavor that makes the polenta so delicious!
After 20-30 minutes of the polenta simmering, when all of the water is absorbed and the polenta is very thick, add the milk and pumpkin. Stir to combine. Then, add the brown butter, rosemary or sage, cayenne, and shredded cheddar. I used rosemary because I love it, but sage is a really popular herb to pair with pumpkin and would taste delicious as well.
Stir the polenta continuously until the cheese is melted. At this point you want to taste it, and add additional salt, spice, or cheese to your desired taste. Then, transfer the polenta to a glass baking dish with a lid and place in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes while you prepare your pork chops. I find that baking the polenta after cooking it on the stove gives it a much creamier texture.
If you plan on making the polenta ahead of time and reheating, the polenta will lose some of it’s creamy texture and dry out a little bit. That’s okay! Just add additional milk and cheese a bit at a time as you warm it until you reach the desired creaminess.
While your polenta is in the oven, it’s time to cook the pork chops. Everything goes really fast from here! Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a saucepan over medium high heat until it gets warm and shiny. Season both sides of the pork chops well with salt and pepper then add to the pan and brown on both sides for 2-3 minutes. Remove the pork chops from the pan once they are golden brown and transfer to a baking sheet.
Once the pork chops are removed, add your chicken or vegetable broth to the saucepan along with the balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and pure maple syrup. Stir and allow this sauce to cook for 4-6 minutes until the it thickens. Then, transfer the sauce to a separate dish, and set it to the side.
Lastly, toss your chopped broccoli in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and place on the baking sheet with the pork chops. Then put the baking sheet in the oven with the polenta for 10-12 minutes until the broccoli is brown on top and the pork chops are cooked through. Slice into the center of one of the pork chops to ensure there is no pink.
To serve, layer the pumpkin polenta on the plate. Place a pork chop and broccoli over the polenta, and then drizzle with the maple glaze.
This dinner is perfect for a date night or just a Sunday night dinner at home with the family. It’s delicious and comforting and tastes just the way a dinner in September (or October or November) should!
Maple Pork Chops with Brown Butter and Pumpkin Polenta
3 cups of water
1 cup polenta
1/2 tsp salt + more to taste
1 cup milk
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
4 tbsp butter
1-2 tsp dried rosemary or sage
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Pork Chops with Maple Glaze-
2 tbsp olive oil
4-6 boneless pork loin chops
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 broccoli crowns, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1. For Polenta: In a medium sized saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil. Add polenta, and reduce heat to simmer. Allow to simmer covered for 20-30 minutes, stirring often. While the polenta is cooking, brown butter in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until dark brown solid pieces begin to form on the bottom. Then, remove butter from heat to cool. After 20-30 minutes, when all of the water is absorbed and the polenta is very thick, add the milk and pumpkin. Stir to combine. Then, add the brown butter, rosemary or sage, cayenne, and shredded cheddar. Stir continuously until the cheese is melted. At this point you want to taste, and add additional salt, spice, or cheese to taste. Transfer polenta to a glass baking dish and place in 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes while you prepare your pork chops.
2. For Pork Chops: Heat olive oil in the bottom of a saucepan over medium high heat until warm and shiny in appearance. Season both sides of pork chops well with salt and pepper. Brown on both sides for 2-3 minutes. Remove the pork chops from pan and transfer to baking sheet. Once pork chops are removed, add chicken or vegetable broth, vinegar, mustard, and maple syrup to the pan, and cook for 4-6 minutes until the sauce thickens. Transfer sauce to separate dish, and set to the side.
3. Toss broccoli in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and place on the baking sheet with the pork chops. Place in the oven with the polenta for 10-12 minutes until broccoli is browned and pork chops are cooked through.
4. To serve, layer pumpkin polenta on plate. Top with pork chop and broccoli. Drizzle with the maple glaze.