Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tuscan Pork Stew over Polenta

I tried this recipe out of last month's Food and Wine Magazine-it just sounded so good to me. However it must not have sounded good to the guests, because practically no one ordered it. The dish was savorous and marvelous so it was disappointing that it wouldn't sell. It is an easy recipe, but of course takes quite a long time simmering. Some famous Italian chef's aunt makes it nightly in her Tuscan restaurant, other than that it is just a very straightforward braise. I used large chunks of boneless pork shoulder-not alot of vegetables-some onions, carrots, and tomato. I made a creamy polenta using half milk and half water. Most of the waiters didn't know what polenta was, so we ended up with "a creamy Italian corn meal" as the description they could use at table, probably not a delicious enough description.


Kevin said...

Hold on there just a minute. At the "Life in" website they describe polenta as:

Polenta: Italy's Other National Dish
It often happens that a nation of people will identify themselves as a distinct culture by their traditional foods. For Italians, it always seems both pasta and pizza are the cornerstones of what makes Italian food "Italian". However, there is a staple food of Northern Italy that does not get the recognition, but certainly makes up the third aspect of the Italian food trinity: Humble, yet versatile and satisfying polenta. Italian cuisine has been characterized by being the food of the peasant and just as poor Southern Italians worked the fields with their bellies full of pasta, Northern Italians subsisted on little more than polenta for centuries. In this way, polenta is truly an Italian national dish, and may have a history much more ancient than either pizza or pasta.

Origins of Polenta
Polenta has been dubbed by some "Italian grits" and there are similarities to the hominy grits that is so popular in the Southern United States. In this way polenta, grits and other "mush" type foods share a common link as the food of poverty. However in ancient times, what would later be called polenta started out as one of the earliest and simplest foods made from grain. Made from wild grains and later from primitive wheat, faro (a popular Italian grain), millet, spelt or chickpeas, the grain was mixed with water to form a paste that was then cooked on a hot stone. In this way, early polenta may have pre-dated leavened bread, since yeasts were often hard to come by and milling techniques were not yet refined.

Sooooo..your wait staffs description of Polenta was really pretty accurate, in fact, it really flatters polenta more than it probably should have been. "Creamy Italian corn meal" is much more appealing than "Italian grits"...or "mush" as the Italians desrcibe it.

Face it, you selected/cooked a happens......

Now the Tuscan Pork Stew part sounds really good. Maybe you should have paired it with pasta instead, or serve alone w/bread. My 2 cents....FWIW

Have a great day cuz!!!!!!! and pick something more appetizing next week.


Lisa said...

Man, I would've ordered this in a heartbeat. It is absolutely my kind of dish. What a shame that hardly anyone got to experience it. I must try and find that recipe (I don't get Food & Wine at the moment); or maybe I can do it just from what you said in your post.