Monday, January 18, 2010

top chef experiment: take five (roasted pork loin with polenta, dandelion greens and rutabaga)

I had every intention of making two Top Chef dishes this week, to make up for the fact that I'll be away enjoying the relaxation of warmth and sunshine for the next seven days.

That didn't happen.

I'll explain to you exactly why that didn't happen when I return home safely from my week of all-inclusive solitude. Let me leave you hanging a little by saying simply that I have not yet even begun my journey to my resort destination and already the unforseen adventures and mishaps are beginning.

p.s. Have I mentioned that this will be my first time ever traveling alone?

So, I hope you will all forgive my absence next week and grant me grace based on the fact that this particular dish involved the most multi-tasking and completion of independent components that I have yet endeavoured to master.

This is my first attempt at one of Brian V.'s dishes. It was also the elimination challenge winner from the fifth episode. 

I had high hopes for it even though I'm not a super-huge pork chop fan (pork chop makes me think dry and lacking in flavour.)

I'm also not a big fan of dandelion greens (too bitter)....or rutabaga (a staple in Newfie boiled dinner and therefore forever tainted in my mind) for that matter.

I do love me some polenta though!

The fact that I am not enamored of the main ingredients in this dish is actually what drew me to it. I wanted to be challenged to open myself up to flavours that I typically wouldn't consider cooking or ordering on a menu.

The verdict?

Pork loin? It was moist, tender and yummy. Marinating the loin cut for an hour before hand definitely gave it a texture that I hadn't experienced before.

Dandelion greens? Still overwhelmingly bitter...until combined with the polenta and the pork. Then the bitterness was neutralized and I enjoyed the combination.

Rutabaga? Time to give the turnip a second chance, I say. Also, my love of braised veggies is once more re-affirmed.

Polenta?  Always a winner. I'd never had it with mascarpone before. It certainly won't be the last time though.

As a whole dish I have to say this may have been my least favourite so far. 

Don't get me wrong, it was good. It just didn't excite me or inspire me in any way. I am reminded of the judges suggesting a kind of safety on Brian's part. I can see it in this dish. It felt safe and standard - good but not special.

Roasted Pork Loin with Polenta, Dandelion and Rutabaga

3 5 oz. center portion pork loin steaks

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tbsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp crushed cumin seeds
1 sprig rosemary
1 clove garlic sliced
6 sprigs thyme
1/2 shallot sliced
sea salt

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup dry polenta
1/8 cup mascarpone
1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 bunch dandelion greens
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/8 cup red onion diced
1/2 cup oyster mushrooms

2 rutabaga cut into pieces 1/2 inch high and 1 inch diameter
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sherry
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter

Pork Marinade:

Mix together marinade.
Pour over pork chops and marinate covered in fridge for 1 hour.


While pork is marinating heat chicken stock, vinegar, sherry and honey until forms glaze.
Add in butter.
Add in rutabaga and cook until tender (about 30 mins)


Remove pork from marinade and dry thoroughly with paper towel.
Sear pork on stove top until medium to medium rare. 
Baste pork with butter, rosemary and garlic.
Let rest.
Roast oyster mushrooms in pan with pork fat until browned.
Reserve for plating.


Heat whole milk to simmer and pour in polenta. 
Stir constantly for 10-15 mins until desired consistency is reached.
Add in mascarpone and butter.
Season with s&p.


In small saute pan heat butter to a froth.
Add in red onion and cook until translucent.
Add dandelion and lemon zest.
Cook until braised.

To serve:
Spoon polenta on to plate.
Dandelion greens and mushrooms on top.
Sliced pork on top of that.
Rutabaga on the side.


Claudia said...

Pretty and what grand ingredients. Love the polenta but then those dandelions and mushrooms with it... mmmm.

Vegetable Matter said...

Great job, but I have to defend my beloved dandelion greens. We eat them often from the garden, and they have just the right amount of bite. Next time you're in Houston, I'll prove it to you!

Cookin' Canuck said...

This dish looks fantastic - how I love pork that is cooked properly! Have a wonderful vacation. There is something very liberating about traveling solo.

Jeannie said...

Looks good! Best it tasted equally good too. Great pics.

The Chickenless Chick said...

Congrats on your successful multi-tasking. Beautiful plate!

bonnie said...

great recipe, beautiful!!!

Caveman Cooking said...

Your plating is phenomenal! I am not a big Rutabaga fan. But, that won't stop me from trying this.
Have a great trip!

Mother Rimmy said...

Beautiful presentation. Great pictures, and the dish sounds wonderful. I haven't tried dandelion greens. I'm not sure where I would get them.

Janice said...

This looks delicious with an elegant presentation. Have a fantastic time on your sunny vacation.

Lauren @CoffeeMuffins said...

Have a great holiday, it looks like you earned it - this dish looks amazing!

micki brown said...

It looks beautiful! Congrats on the Top 9 honors...well-deserved! I do love me some polenta too. I will have to try your recipe.

Sook said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this recipe. It looks fabulous!

Gabriella said...

Dear Sweetwatercook, your blog concept is awesome!! I never thought of making the dishes from Top Chef. Its would be so cool to taste the dishes that were on the show and find out why the judges scored it they way they did. I also enjoyed reading your freestyle writing and hope traveling alone for the first time was not so bad. I have done is so many times I am a pro at in now. Great way to learn about yourself.
This site was such a pleasure to visit. Well presented, clean, clear and beautiful photos. I shall be returning for another delicious bite. Thank you for sharing,
Cheers, Gaby
You can visit me at

Joy said...

MMMMMmm this one looks delicious. I looove rutabagas but have never tasted dandelion greens -- but this post has suddenly made me curious...beautiful photos now if only I could pluck the image and place it in my belly somehow...

Post a Comment