published Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Fare Exchange: Easy pork 'n' polenta comes together in the crock pot

Jane Henegar

TO REACH US

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

• Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

• E-mail: chattfare@gmail.com

Good morning. Today’s requests are where to purchase Cutco knives and how to cook: A cookie cake that is not chocolate or chocolate chip, an ice cream cake like the ones sold at local specialty ice cream shops, chocolate-covered espresso beans and recipes using those beans, finely chopped.

Carol McKee saw the mention of Cutco knives and wants to know where to buy them. Good Granny, preparing for an onslaught of birthdays, wants a non-chocolate, birthday-worthy cookie cake and instructions for making an ice cream birthday cake. She reminded us, too, that we have never gotten a recipe for chocolate-covered espresso beans, and for recipes using those beans.

As I sit in a snow-globe world writing these words, I am thinking of the power of the visual. Thanks to you, H.B., for sending your own photograph of your version of the Easy Chicken and Dumplings recipe printed recently. They looked so good I wanted to go to visit my friend and sample. It is possible to have too many photographs in thinking of food, however. A recent blogpost describing a mocha dessert had such a string of photographs that it took much scrolling down to arrive at the recipe. No need to see what the eggs in the bowl look like; tell us how to mix them in.

Polenta popped out at Jane Stewart of Lookout Mountain when she opened a recent Exchange. “You see, this week I made polenta for the very first time and with pork stew on top. The recipe is below.” She got it from the food blog at www.italianfoodforever.com.

Thanks for this link to a favorite blog. The rest of you, too, let us know your best blog sources for good recipes. Recently we’ve heard a mention of Smitten Kitchen and Pioneer Woman. Now, yours?

“I browned the meat and cut up the veggies on Sunday night,” Stewart explained. “Then Monday morning I threw all the ingredients in the crock pot and went to work. On coming home, I made the polenta and cooked it for one-half hour and supper was made. It was beautiful and delicious. The amount of stew fed three of us for two nights, plus some leftover lunch for two of us. I made a fresh batch of the yummy polenta each night.”

Here is a clear distinction of the difference between polenta and grits. Stewart’s bag of Bob’s Red Mill Polenta called it “Corn Grits also known as Polenta” and continued that “corn grits are simply coarsely ground bits of corn. They have long been a traditional staple of both northern Italy and the American South.”

Slow Cooker Pork Stew on Creamy Polenta

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast

1/2 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, cut into chunks

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup white wine

2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Trim the roast of fat, and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place the flour in a plastic bag, dump in the pork pieces and shake the bag until coated.

Heat half the oil in a heavy skillet, and cook half the pork pieces over medium heat until lightly browned.

Place the browned pork pieces in the slow cooker, then continue to brown the remaining pieces, and place these in the slow cooker when browned as well.

Dump the rest of the browned pork and remaining stew ingredients except the garnish into the slow cooker and turn it on low for 8 hours.

Creamy Polenta

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup polenta

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons butter

Just before you are ready to serve the pork stew, heat the water in a pot with the salt until boiling. Pour the polenta into the boiling water, whisking continually until the polenta is smooth and thick.

Turn the heat to a simmer, cover and continue to cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring vigorously every 10 minutes until the polenta is soft.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and butter.

Scoop some polenta into four bowls, then spoon the stew on top and garnish with the chopped parsley.


Here is some good shopping news from Nancy Ruby, who knows her cooking stuff. If you are a barbecue lover, read on.

“When I moved to Tennessee from North Carolina in 1969, I looked high and low for barbecue like I was accustomed to in Piedmont N.C., i.e., Lexington-style with a vinegar sauce. I gave up and learned to tolerate the barbecue here with the thick red sauce. On trips back to North Carolina, or when North Carolina came to Tennessee, barbecue was always a must. Recently in Bi-Lo in the deli section, I noticed a container that specified Carolina style. I have tried grocery store barbecue previously, but I could see this through the clear top, and it looked genuine. And it is. It is by Brookwood Farms from Siler City, N.C. They have other varieties, but the Carolina with the vinegar-based thin sauce is my preference; I thought I had died and gone to North Carolina. On their website, I also noticed that they have restaurants in the Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham airports.”


Here’s another Amaretto Pie, attributed to Shirley and Anne but sent to us by Pat Reynolds.

Shirley and Anne’s Amaretto Pie

Crust

1 stick butter

1 cup flour

1/2 cup crushed pecans

Filling

3 cups mini-marshmallows

2/3 cup evaporated milk

3 to 4 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Amaretto-flavored whipped cream and almonds for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

For crust, combine butter, flour and pecans and spread in a pie pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is rather firm.

For the filling, heat marshmallows and evaporated milk in a saucepan until marshmallows are melted. Stir in Amaretto. Refrigerate until slightly thickened, then remove from refrigerator and stir in vanilla. Whip cream until stiff peaks form; stir into marshmallow mixture by hand. Pour filling into prepared crust and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, top with a dollop of Amaretto-flavored whipped cream and several toasted almonds, if desired.

Kitchen Must-Haves

Thank you, Laura Grody, for providing this good name for our discussion of favorite kitchen items. She suggests three:

• 1. Specifically, a Cutco Trimmer, if you can only have one;

• 2. One-piece, all-silicone spatulas;

• 3. Heavy, good-quality non-stick fry pans in 8-inch and 10-inch sizes.

Do any of you have a favorite frying pan brand?

Just a Dash…

Carren Bersch got her latest sandwich idea from a Christmas gingerbread loaf distributed at Christmas by a bread maker. The loaf was “the size of swirled cinnamon breads always on store shelves. I tried it and loved it. This week none were to be found. I wrote the company and they said their bread was a holiday specialty. I wrote back, ‘I celebrate every day …’

“I had begun to put various meats on that bread (chicken, ham, even jalapeno hot dogs) with different types of cheese (extra sharp cheddar, pepper jack and my fave, jalapeno white cheddar) and grilling them. One day, on a sale shelf at Wal-Mart, I found a loaf of Rothbury’s apple fritter bread and made that my new grilled sandwich bread. Then I tried a loaf of Cinnabon’s cinnamon bread. I was at the point of trying tuna salad and tomato — or maybe bacon and avocado — when it was time for my cardiology check-up.”

Her cardiologist advised against too many sandwiches, “no matter what kind of bread,” with her family history of diabetes. And now Bersch is wondering whether the doctor would speak against Zac Brown’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscuit Pudding, from Parade magazine. “Surely one of my neighbors would enjoy an edible gift, right? Even one with a small scoop removed.”

And that is today’s fare, exchanged. Please come back next week.

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