Sorry, I meant to say “Polenta” – Mango Stuffed Pork Steak

Pork steak with mango 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.

Pork steak with mango

Glad to be back in the kitchen where can hide my embarrassment, I got to photographing the food.

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.

Polenta

It looks hardly worth the trouble. Nice colour all the same.

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.

Stuffed pork steak

My thoughts ranged from “Damn that traffic.” to “No demand? I’ll give you ‘No demand'” as I beat it flat.

With something approaching balance restored, I chopped the mango, the chili and the parsley into suitable sized pieces.

Mango, chill and parsley

Nice colours. the bashing and chopping restored some semblance of normality to my over-shopped mind.

Next I added it to the pork steak (having removed the cling film of course).

Pork steak with mango

I love this shot. The colours are excellent and anticipation was rising.

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.

Polenta chopped

I turned out the polenta and chopped it into serving sized pieces.

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.

Mango stuffed pork steak

Mango stuffed pork steak releasing it’s contents on the chopping board. Very flavoursome.

The lessons learned from this experience are:

  1. Mango, chili and parsley are good bedfellows in a pork steak stuffing.
  2. Remember to season the meat before cooking. I didn’t and had to add it after.
  3. Polenta is tasty enough but will act as a flavour medium for other ingredients in later recipes. Herbs spring to mind.
  4. Don’t day-dream about polenta while sitting in traffic.
    Pork steak with mango

    The fried polenta served with the juicy pork steak. A delicious combination.

    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.

    Mango stuffed pork steak

    Note the addition of salt and black pepper. Needed to bring some life to the dish.

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  • I get the obsessive-compulsive urge every now and then. Actually it was yesterday evening; looking for salmon fillets in a local Co-Op. They didn’t have any but I rotated back and forth between the fresh food isle and the freezer again again looking for non-exsistant fish. I think I may have looked a bit weird.

    Also goo tip re the foil – this may have been the reason my last pork adventure turned out a bit dry? I used the foil the other way round. Excellent pics as per usual – you seem to have some very good lighting going on there. Anyway back to my sales backwards plan!

  • Conor,
    This looks magnificent and it is mango season in SA at the moment, think I will do your idea this weekend, but braai it outside over hot coals! Lovely and looks so appetizing!

    Regards,
    Willie

      • right – I’ve been guided to some good pork butchers (a rarity in this town) so Saturday I’ll be picking some up and giving this a go…

  • Polenta works very well in its more liquid state with a sharp cheddar as a base for heavily spiced meats. They also use it as a breakfast in creole cuisine I think. I fell deeply in love with the stuff last year, how upsetting that you had to go through that saga, made for great reading though.

  • I liked the mango/meat shot also 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing your lessons learned and I like the idea of stuffing your pork with mango and chilies. I am sure it was moist, spicy and delicious.

  • Mango and chilli also make very nice sorbet strangely enough. Mixed with a bit of sugar syrup it’s the shit. Nice werk…

  • Polenta … Placenta … Who knew?

  • That’s so funny! I hate when supermarkets don’t stock specific ingredients! I’m so stubborn that I would do the same and drive from shop to shop despite the time wasting!

  • Probably wouldn’t have suited this dish here but one way to jazz polenta up is to use a mixture stock and milk or cream instead of water. I have made an outrageously decadent version from the Balthazaar cook book that uses a 1:1:1 ratio of cream, milk and mascarpone; it tastes amazing but is incredibly rich.

  • Love. That. Yellow! Truly gorgeous and I know the polenta is meant to be the side to that (equally lovely pork,) but truly for me the Polenta is the star! I’m saving my first mango of the season for a lovely tuna and salsa, but nonetheless, I’ll enjoy looking at your salsa too!

  • Sweet, tangy, hot and savoury, what a juicy combination! You’ve got a flavour winner here Conor. Goes straight into my must-try-it list. I like the the picture where you whack the ‘polenta’ out of the steak. So … emotion filled.

  • Next time, ask them for grits. You won’t mistake that for placenta and you will have fun seeing the quizzical look on their faces. 😉 Polenta = grits in the US Deep South. Polenta goes well with chiles, herbs, especially rosemary, cheese of almost any kind, braised meats, tomatoes, etc. It’s very versatile and delicious. Love the use of the mango with the pork. Very nice pairing.

  • Placenta? Don’t encourage me – it’s been on my thing to cook list for a while… 😉
    Well done for persisting, the polenta looks great with the pork.

      • Good, it scares the hell out of most people 🙂

  • I’m not a big fan of polenta, but like it fried with rosemary. I believe it’s supposed to be made with a mixture of fine and coarse corn flour, but it looks like you’ve been lucky to find any at all.
    Original combination: pork with mango, parsley and chile. The colours look great!
    I’ve had similar stories shopping for hard to find ingredients. The worst part is not buying something at first because it’s too expendive, and then regretting that later…

  • Huh? Well in all the four supermarkets I variably visit, polenta sits next to the rice [brown or white or whatever!] and near to the pasta! I buy it when I need to have ‘off time’ [ie not the instant kind], put on a fave opera recording, put on the water, bring to boil, pour in the grain and lovingly stir and stir and stir for about 35-40 minutes with my mind in imaginative circles 😀 ! Towards the end quite good excercise for one’s arms 🙂 ! [Sorry, Conor!]

      • OK, Pearl Fishers or Lakme for me 😀 !

  • You had me in fits of hysterical laughing over your placenta! The dish looks lovely Conor. Have used polenta as an appetizer by slicing it thinly then topping with a bit of avocado, cilantro, and a small bit of cheese…Broil until cheese melts…yummy!

  • Fabulous looking meal, and what a great story! I’ve never tried polenta before, but now you have me scared to try to find some 🙂

  • I love polenta. You can keep it simple with parmesan, salt and a little rosemary… like you haven’t gotten enough polenta tips.
    Pork, mango and chili- fantastic. I love pork chops with mango salsa – almost the same thing.
    Your garlic and rosemary header look beautiful. Love that purple skinned roja looking garlic.

  • Conor, loved the photo’s and the whole obsession…

    Ed

  • In my local supermarket, they hide the polenta, also know as cornmeal in the States (not to contradict my fellow American above but grits are made of hominy which is hulled corn kernels that have been stripped of their bran and germ and are therefore white) below the dried beans and spices that come in bags. No where near the expected places with the baking supplies or couscous and bulgur wheat. It took me ages to find it and, like you, it took more than one shop before I had success in that odd place. I admire your persistence! It surely paid off in a beautiful meal.

  • Oh Conor. We’ve all been there, fruitlessly searching for that key ingredient, running to multiple stores, feeling defeated and frustrated, when all you want to do is get in the kitchen and start cooking! (Sigh) But, this seems to have come together quite nicely despite all the craziness. Well done. I knew you could do it.

  • You had me laughing with this post…I’m always asking where things are as I think it saves time but I can imagine the looks you were getting. You will be seeing a similar idea that I made and will be posting before the end of the year with a pork tenderloin (which looks like what you used) and polenta. My grocer carries polenta (which is corn meal where I live) and is found where beans and grains are displayed. Your end result…after your determined search sounds absolutely wonderful. Good for you for persevering.

  • Love the colors! The yellow and red of the mango and chilli come together wonderfully! Lol thanks for the laugh – now you have a great story every time you serve polenta 🙂

  • Fab photos, as always Conor. I find polenta a bit bland unless I add stuff to it: lots of seasoning, garlic, chilli, herbs, so well done for sticking with it and making it work. Looks great!

  • I’m Absolutely Dying To Try This It Sounds Amazing 😛
    I’m Living In Dublin Myself And ant Find Anywhere That Sells It!
    Can You Tell Me Where The Organic Supermarket That Sells It Is? 🙂

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