Sage & Butter Pork Loin on Porcini Mushroom Polenta
Oh, yes- you may indeed believe your eyes... I made another meat dish again! It is strange, but so many people think that just because I do not eat meat every day, that I do not like it- or that I am maybe a vegetarian!
Quite on the contrary, I enjoy meat very much! It is just that... there are so many things that you can cook using vegetables too- haha!
But this evening, pork was on the menu- with, rather passingly... "porcini" mushrooms and yummy polenta! Italian comfort food... with a twist!
You might imagine this kind of dish takes a long time to prepare, but actually, it took only 30-40 minutes in all... which was a really good thing this evening, as by the time I got home from the market hall and a little shopping in town... thanks to the Frankfurt weather, a torrential downpour... and the fact that I do not have a car and was carrying my goodies home on foot- I got soaked! I was freezing cold! And yes- once again... I needed a little comforting!
Just a handful of porcini mushrooms per portion, along with 1 cupful of polenta, 1 slice of pork, a couple of Spring onions and some parsley, sage, garlic and thyme- that was all it took to give this guy a whole lot of enjoyment, a good feed and indeed, a little comfort on this cold evening.
There were a couple of other little ingredients- maybe a little unusual... but I will get to those later...
Ok, I will tell you a couple of the other ingredients that I added to this dish, to make it more delicious... and they were both alcoholic in nature- so... sorry kiddies! This ain't for you!
I used both cognac and a Sicilian sweet wine called "Zibibbo" for the pork... don't you just love that name? Should you not be able to get zibibbo, a shot of port will have a similar effect, or a Marsala... but along with the cognac, the sage and the butter... and one last ingredient that I will mention later- you will have magical juices to accompany your pork and make sure it is filled with flavor!
Give the porcini a good rinse, let them dry off thoroughly- and be critical when you dice them up- look out for worm-holes and any little critters that may be enjoying them before you get a chance to eat them... remember- these things have come from the countryside!
Slice up the onions and a little garlic nice and finely to add plenty of aroma... and go grab yourself a saucepan to prepare that polenta!
Fry the mushrooms with around 2/3rds of the Spring onions and the garlic, with a good pat of butter, salt, pepper, and a little of the fresh thyme.
Once the mushrooms are brown, deglaze the saucepan with just a splash of cognac, then add enough water to cover the mushrooms. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer before continuing with the polenta...
...add the polenta along with plenty of freshly grated nutmeg and a little more pepper.
Stir it in well, so that it absorbs all of the water in the pan and gets nicely and evenly coated... this is not a bad thing! This will in fact ensure that you do not end up with lumps in your polenta- so it is actually a very good thing!
Next, add a good splash of milk and keep stirring the mushrooms and polenta until it dissolves again.
Top up with more boiling water until you have the desired consistency, reduce to a low simmer and allow to bubble away gently for a further 20 minutes or so until it is creamy, smooth and delicious. The mushrooms, garlic, onion, herbs and spice, will all cook gently into the polenta, making it rich and tasty... without you needing to do very much more at all!
After around 10-15 minutes, you can begin to prepare your slice of pork. In a good pat of melted and bubbling butter, place the pork, a little finely chopped garlic, 4-5 small sage leaves (or equivalent), a little thyme and some salt and pepper.
Fry until brown from both sides, then add the onions until they too begin to brown, then deglaze the pan with a splash of cognac and a little of the Zibbibo. Give the pork 3-4 minutes of frying time to each side before deglazing the pan and then allow it to gently simmer for a further 3-4 whilst you add the mystery ingredient that will bind the juices in the pan into a makeshift sauce... would you believe it? Hoisin sauce!
Yes, this blends wonderfully with the sweet onion and garlic juices and goes very harmoniously with the pork... with a finishing touch of a hint of honey to compliment the sage... you are now ready to serve!
With a light sprinkle of parsley and thyme, a little fresh pepper is the finishing touch before you sit down to a good, hearty meal! One that I promise you will enjoy immensely!
Spoon those rich juices and sweet onion on top and enjoy... who needs a more intricate gravy when this brings out all of the best of each flavor on the plate! And so easy of course, too!