I was having a bad day. I started with no plan for the evening meal. I trawled the fridge, the fruit bowl and the vegetable basket. I had a pork steak. I had a big ripe mango. I had some chilis and I had some flat leaf parsley. The inventive side of me decided that I would cook Pork Steak with Mango, Chili and Parsley. Now all I had to do was to get something nice to go with it. That’s simple enough, surely?
I rejected both regular and sweet potatoes because I have overdone it with them recently. Rice got bounced because I would have to drive half way across the city to buy a new sack. Nothing sprang to mind.
A quick session on the computer had me convinced that I should try polenta. I have never cooked it before. All I have to do is nip to Sandyford and pick some up in Dunnes Stores.
I want to avoid a long rant here so I will just give your the bare facts:
1:35: Arrive in Dunnes Stores and fight my way to the baking aisle. No polenta flour. Find and ask employee. When we were over the language barrier, he took me to the Coeliac section. No polenta flour. Out to the car and drive to Stillorgan.
1:50: Arrive in Tesco and get to the baking aisle. No polenta flour. Go to the Coeliac section (I am a quick learner). No polenta flour. Find and ask employee. He suggested the baking section. I explain that I have been there already. He tells me there is probably no demand for it. I bite my tongue and leave.
2:05: Walk to Donnybrook Fair. Go to the baking aisle. You have guessed it, no polenta flour. I ask the manager. He asks me what I want it for. “To make polenta” I reply through gritted teeth. He brings me to the cake section and explains that they sometimes have cakes made using it but that they don’t have any at present. Nor do they have the flour. I run back to the car.
2:35: Drive to Blackrock, getting stuck in Sunday shopping traffic on the way. My mind wanders. “Polenta, it sounds like Placenta. Don’t some people actually eat that after giving birth to a child. Disgusting…” Dangerous thoughts. Park up and go to Superquinn. Search the aisles. Stop an employee and ask “Do you sell Placenta?” She looks at me. I realise what I have said and flush. They don’t. Nor do they sell polenta or polenta flour. I apologise and hurry away.
2:50: Determined to get what I want, I go to the Holland & Barrett health food store. Rejection again but I am directed to the Organic Supermarket. I walk down the town and buy polenta flour. It had better be good.
3:25: Arrive home, road weary and feeling a mixture of anger and embarrassment. I begin to prepare the evening meal.
That’s two hours of my life I will not get back. Time to focus on the dinner. We are having Pork Steak with Mango, Chili and Parsley served with Fried POLENTA. I’m not making that mistake again. There is no ingredients list for this. You will need the highlighted stuff above.
The polenta flour has simple instructions on the pack. Follow them, if you can find polenta flour in your locale. I added .75 of a litre of water to a pot and brought it to the boil. I added 120 gms of hard to find polenta flour and simmered this, stirring for 30 minutes. I then turned it out into a dish that I had lined with oiled cling film. It cooled and set.
Next I prepared the pork steak. First I trimmed the fat and sinew. Then cut it open (almost all the way through but not quite.). I folded it out and repeated the process on both sides. Then I wrapped it in cling film and took my anger and frustration out on it using a large wooden rolling-pin.
With something approaching balance restored, I chopped the mango, the chili and the parsley into suitable sized pieces.
Next I added it to the pork steak (having removed the cling film of course).
Note the cooking foil. I wrapped the steak very tightly in the foil, just after adding a half glass of white wine. Also note that I used ‘shiny side in’ on the cooking foil. This is always the right thing to do, trust me. Half an hour in a 200 degree celsius oven and it’s done. I let it rest while I chopped the polenta.
These were fried off in a mixture of oil and butter. While this was going on, I carved (hacked if the truth were to be told) the pork steak.
The lessons learned from this experience are:
- Mango, chili and parsley are good bedfellows in a pork steak stuffing.
- Remember to season the meat before cooking. I didn’t and had to add it after.
- Polenta is tasty enough but will act as a flavour medium for other ingredients in later recipes. Herbs spring to mind.
- Don’t day-dream about polenta while sitting in traffic.
While the dish worked really well, it needed salt and pepper to bring out the polenta flavour. If I had seasoned the pork, that might have helped too.