I am always happy to be back at work, cooking up something tasty for Mushrooms Canada in my Yum Yum Factor kitchen. This polenta bowl is not only the perfect weekend brunch treat, but it makes a really filling weeknight dinner too, especially if you make the chili verde ahead of time.
This dish is inspired by something that I always eat for brunch at one of our favourite Toronto restaurants, The Wren. I am the weirdo who doesn't like to eat sweet things or other typical brunchy foods and will take something savoury and spicy over french toast instead, any day. It is also another excuse to use my electric pressure cooker, which allows me to make a stew that would usually take a couple of hours in half the time. Electric pressure cookers are all the rage right now, and for good reason because these things are almost as easy to use as a slow cooker and, unlike your grandmother's terrifying, hissing time bomb, they are totally safe.
Besides the fact that, on the stove, chili verde is time consuming , it's usually made with a big, old pork butt or pork shoulder so it's very rich and fatty - not something we want to be eating all that often. Okay, I would like to eat it more often but maybe my arteries would not and I think it's wise to be kind to our arteries. By replacing half the pork with mushrooms, you are making it so much healthier without sacrificing anything in the way of flavour or texture. This recipe makes more chili verde than you will use for the polenta bowls but the leftovers are great over rice too.
This seems likes lots of last minute steps but you can make the mushroom pork chili verde earlier in the day or the day before and just reheat it and using instant polenta is easier than making toast. Just promise me you will make the polenta at the last minute because it's so quick and it really is better fresh. If you like it thinner, just stir in a bit more water right before you serve it and you will be good to go.
Mushroom Pork Chili Verde Polenta Bowls
Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 40 minutes | Serves 4-6 with leftover chili verde
Pressure Cooked* Mushroom Pork Chili Verde
1-2 tbls grapeseed oil (or other flavourless oil)
1 onion, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb mix of baby portobellos and white button mushrooms, sliced a little more thickly than normal
a pinch or two of kosher salt
1 lb thinly sliced pork shoulder or pork shoulder
1 big handful cilantro
1 828ml (29 fluid oz) can tomatillos
1 27.5 0z can poblano chilis (I use San Miguel whole Poblano Chilis)
1/2 cup Corona
1 tbls cumin
1 tbls Mexican Oregano
pinch kosher salt
juice from 1 to 2 limes
Cheesy Jalapeno Polenta
4 cups water
1 tbls kosher salt
1 cup instant polenta
1 seeded, chopped jalapeno
100 grams jalapeno havarti, grated
garnish: crushed tortilla chips or fried tortilla strips, cilantro and a poached or fried egg
First, make the salsa verde.
Drain the tomatillos and put in a blender. Drain the poblano chilis, discard the seeds and the stems and throw the flesh in the blender with the tomatillos along with a big handful of cilantro. Pulse until pureed and set aside.
To make the Mushroom Pork Chili Verde:
Heat the pressure cooker on sauté until it's hot and add 1 tbls of oil. Cook the mushrooms, a handful at a time, until they start to release liquid, pushing them to the side as you add more until they are all in the pot. Add a small pinch of salt with the mushrooms. If the pot seems to get dry, drizzle in a bit more olive oil as you go.
Now throw in the onions and garlic and cook for another few minutes, until it's all sizzling before you add the pork, the cumin and the oregano. Stir it around for another minute or two, letting it sizzle away before you pour in the beer and the salsa verde. Keep it on sauté until the mixture comes to a boil. Now, hit cancel, put on the lid and lock it, making sure that the steam valve is closed and program if for 20 minutes on manual. When the 20 minutes are up , the timer will start to count up as it starts to release pressure.
This is when you can make the polenta.
Bring the water to a boil in a heavy pot, add the salt, the jalapeño and whisk in the polenta and keep whisking until it starts to thicken up and then switch to a wooden spoon. Keep stirring constantly with the wooden spoon for about 3-4 minutes until it's nice and thick. At that point, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cheese, beating vigorously with the wooden spoon until the cheese is melted and fully incorporated into the polenta. Put on the lid and put aside.
Once the chili verde has sat for ten minutes to release most of the pressure naturally, you can release the rest of the steam and leave the lid on while you make the eggs. You can poach them or fry them but its best if you have a nice, runny yolk.
Spoon a good amount of polenta into a bowl, ladle the mushroom pork chili verde on the top, plop the egg on the chili verde and scatter some fresh cilantro and crispy tortilla strips (or just crash up good quality tortilla chips) and serve.
Note:* If you don't have a pressure cooker, simmer in a pot on the stove for about 1.5 hrs instead.
If you're the type of person who prefers the savoury brunch over the sweet, or if you're looking to spice up your weeknight dinner, Carole has shared a real winner here!! As always, a big thank you to Carole for joining us in our kitchen and always packing a ton of fun and flavour.
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