Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Braised Pork Chops with Onions, Mushrooms and Polenta

I am constantly trying new recipes, or new takes on old recipes. When I do, my goal is always the same, to make a healthy and satisfying dish that is also full of flavor. Most of the time, I like to think, I'm pretty successful. Sometimes, I'm not. And sometimes I feel like I hit a home run. This is one of those dishes.

But before we get too far into it, I wanted to check in on one of the toughest topics when it comes to getting and staying healthy, as well as losing weight--fitting activity into your schedule.

I know how hard this is to do, but I also know how important it is. There is always something that needs to be done--job pressures, kids and family, housework, there's always something. And, there always will be. The only answer is to commit to making it a priority, there really is no other way. 

Now there are ways that make it easier to stick to that commitment. Just like in making your New Year's resolution, you need a plan. Here are some suggestions:
  • Try to set aside the same time every day for exercise such as first thing in the morning or right after work.
  • Set a goal of getting exercise every day. Most of us fail at this but if you try every day, you're much more likely to get the three to five days you need.
  • Find ways to work activity into your day such as parking further from the office or store, using your lunch hour to to take an exercise class or a walk, take breaks to stretch.
  • Find something active that you enjoy, running, bicycling, martial arts.
  • Get active with your kids by playing active games, including video gaming systems like the Wii.

Now, on to the chops. This is really two recipes in one. First you have a pork loin chop, braised in brandy and topped with mushrooms and onions. Then, you have the creamy polenta. I loved the earthy and slightly sweet flavors of the chop and veggies, but I was super excited at how well the polenta came out. If you don't already know, polenta is coarsely ground corn, most commonly cooked in stock, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. In the past, I have used stock only, but haven't been as happy with it as I would like. For this version, I substituted evaporated skim milk for the heavy cream and loved how it came out, very creamy without all the guilt.

This one could very well be a regular for us.

You will notice that the polenta makes 6 servings and I only made 4 servings of the chops. I saved the extra two for breakfast, reheating them and topping them with a little maple syrup. Yum!

Let's eat!

Pork Loin Chops with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms
Makes 4 servings
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
12 ounces brown mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 4-ounce pork loin chops
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup brandy
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large oven-safe skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and sautee until browned and moisture has evaporated. Set aside.

In the same skillet add remaining oil and onions, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and caramelized. Add to mushrooms.

Salt and pepper chops and add them to the same skillet, sear each side until brown, about 3 minutes a side. Add stock, brandy and herbs and bring to a boil. Let cook several minutes to allow the alcohol to cook off. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake until tender, about 25 minutes. Uncover, add onions and mushrooms and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Serve over polenta.

Nutrition information provided by NutritionData.com: Calories: 303, Fat: 11 grams, Carbs: 6 grams, Fiber: 1 gram, Protein: 27 grams, Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 6.

Creamy Polenta
Makes 6 servings
2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
2 cups evaporated skim milk
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Kosher salt to taste

In a large pot, combine stock and evaporated skim milk. Over medium high heat, bring the liquid to a boil. Slowly whisk in polenta so that it is not clumpy and whisk continuously for 5 minutes, reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring regularly.

Whisk in Parmesan, salt to taste and serve.

Nutrition information provided by NutritionData.com: Calories: 173, Fat: 3 grams, Carbs: 27 grams, Fiber: 1 gram, Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4 points.

Deal of the Day: I love my oil sprayer. Not only do they help you reduce the amount of fat you add to dishes, but they don't have the propellants that can be harmful to non-stick. Amazon has this Misto M100S Gourmet Brushed Aluminum Olive Oil Sprayer marked down to less than $9!


Chow and Chatter said...

lovely recipe and tips :-)

nancy@skinnykitchen.com said...

All I can say is YUMMY! This looks delish and healthy too...


It looks really good!

danasfoodforthought said...

Great tips! I pack and bring gym clothes with me to work every day, so that I don't have to go home before going to the gym. This way, i am less tempted to get lazy or into another activity.

ARLENE said...

I'm definitely going to try the evaporated skimmed milk in my polenta next time I make it. This is definitely a dish I would love--pork and onions and mushrooms and then creamy polenta. Wonderful! How I wish I could keep to my exercise goals. It's become harder and harder as I age since exercise tends to trigger aches and pains and I'm a big wuss.

Kate @ Diethood.com said...

That looks so good! Delicious and comforting - yummy meal!

ravienomnoms said...

That looks really good!

Sippity Sup said...

I agree. Put fitness into your schedule and you will feel better and be healthy. Besides, all those everyday stresses you describe will be easier to handle too. GREG

mywanderingspoon said...

Simply wonderful, great combination of ingredients, great job:)

zerrin said...

I love polenta and this is a fantastic dinner with lovely presentation!

Jorie said...

Love polenta. Yum!

Mags @ the Other Side of 50 said...

Scott, I tried to stumble this, but it told me that your website had been temporarily removed from their database.

Scott K said...

Thanks all!

Mags, I've emailed SU and asked what's up. I must have committed some kind of SU sin.

Delishhh said...

I am not a huge polenta person but i love your suggestions with evaporated milk, i might have to try that. Also great advice on the workouts, so true. I schedule mine into my work schedule.

Mother Rimmy said...

I've not made polenta from scratch. I usually buy the polenta in a tube. Now I'm a bit ashamed. You've inspired me to give it a try. The pork sounds fantastic!

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