Many of my original recipes are inspired by cravings. I am addicted to Mexican food; but, in the South, it is really hard to Mexican food that is genuinely delicious and authentic. Here, Mexican food tends to come doused in cheese sauce, layered with cloyingly sweet flavors, packed with ground beef, or served in Taco Bell-styled, prepackaged, hard shells. You have to ask for the good salsas because the regular patrons can’t stand heat. Often, the meals are too sad to enjoy. Though, if I have no other option because friends want it or because I have been drinking, I’ll eat it.
This means when I crave it, or when I crave Mexican flavors, I have to cook for myself. I roast my veggies. I season, marinade, and cook my proteins. I carefully choose the corn tortillas at the store, checking their use-by dates and ensuring they were made local. I make sure that my Mexican food is reminiscent of home.
But, there are those times when I am downright starving and can’t wait for an arduous prep process or long cook times; when I am in the mood for more adventurous flavor combinations; or, when I simply have eaten too many tacos, enchiladas, and pasole. So instead, I come up with my own recipes. Usually, they are less time intensive, which makes my growling stomach happy. This happens to be one of those off-the-cuff recipes.
When you too make this dish, if your company can appreciate a bit of mild heat, try adding a finely diced jalapeno to your polenta batter as well as to the pomegranate, cilantro medley. The spice cuts through the sweetness of the pork and the cream sauce.
1 tbl olive oil
4 disks of freshly fried, plain polenta, each about 6 inches in diameter, 1/2 inch thick
1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
2 tbl chopped cilantro
1/2 cup finely grated manchego cheese
*Tomatillo Cream Sauce*
Click here for recipe
Click here for recipe
*Spice Rub for Pork*
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp salt kosher
1 1/2 tsp crushed red chilies
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
- Mix pork rub spices and set aside.
- Take pork chops out of wrapper and rinse. Dry with paper towel, and then sprinkle with rub. Set to the side while you make your salsa.
- Preheat oven to 400˚.
- See link above for the tomatillo cream sauce and pickled veg recipes. Make both recipes 1 hour *at least* prior to cooking the pork.
- Set cream sauce and pickled veggies aside, preferably in fridge.
- Place medium-sized sauté pan on stove. Add olive oil and turn heat on to high. When the oil starts to smoke, reduce heat to medium or medium high and immediately add pork chops.
- Cook each side of the pork chops for about 1 minute. You should see each chop begin to take on caramel to slightly charred colors. After searing all sides of each chop, turn off the stove heat. Then, remove the chops from pan and place them onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Place pork chops in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- While chops are baking, fry your polenta disks and mix pomegranate seeds with the chopped cilantro.
- Once baked, pull chops from oven and turn off heat. Immediately plate: one chop per plate sitting atop a fried polenta disk. Drizzle each chop with warm or cold tomatillo cream sauce. Sprinkle chops with pomegranate seed-cilantro mix, dust with finely grated manchego cheese, and then serve with chilled side of pickled veg.