Do not let the words "kale" and "anchovy" turn you away from giving this dinner a shot. A bed of soft polenta made creamy with cheese, milk, or butter supports spicy kale and a mouthwatering seared pork chop. Spooning the umami rich anchovy gravy over top really does put this dinner high on our repeat list because the flavors really work well together.
I often ask Jim what meals he wants the following week when I am meal planning on the weekend. He usually always responds with "Beef Wellington" first, then I giggle and roll my eyes and when I ask him for the second time, "no really, what do you want this week?" he will say "pork chops." I have several tried and true pork chop recipes that I call upon but this one stands out as a favorite of mine. I think you will love it too.
1 bunch kale
4 cloves garlic, divided
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 lemon, divided
1/2 T anchovy paste (find the tube on the pasta sauce aisle)
3 T olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch)
1 t chicken base (I like Better than Bouillon found on the soup aisle)
1/2 cup polenta (also sold under the name grits found on the cereal aisle)
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan)
2 thick bone-in pork chops
Rinse kale and tear leaves off of the thick stem, place in a salad spinner as you go. Rinse under cold water and spin dry. Mince 4 garlic cloves, reserving half for use with the kale. Mince rosemary leaves, discarding stems. On a cutting board, sprinkle 1 teaspoon kosher salt over one half of your minced garlic and the minced rosemary. Using a large knife, carefully scrape over at a 45-degree angle, pressing down. Repeat until garlic is broken down and paste forms.
Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into a large pan, and add the remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic, and crushed red pepper. Turn heat to medium and let the oil warm up with the garlic and pepper infusing it along the way. When the oil is shimmering, and the garlic is sizzling, add the kale and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Use tongs to turn the leaves over until they are all coated with infused oil. Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon, and reserve the other half for later. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste, remove the kale from the pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together anchovy paste, garlic-rosemary paste, juice of reserved half lemon, 1/4 cup of grated cheese and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.
Follow the directions on your package, adding the chicken base along with the water. In a medium pot, mix chicken base with 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then slowly add polenta, whisking continuously. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring, until polenta is creamy, 10 minutes. Turn off heat and add ingredients that make it creamy. You could add 2 T of butter and 1/4 cup of grated cheese. I like to add 3 T milk and grated cheese. I've added cream cheese or mascarpone because I had it in the fridge. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Cover to keep warm.
Rinse pork and pat dry with paper towel. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan from kale over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add pork and cook until golden outside and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
Divide polenta evenly between 2 plates and layer over the kale. Place pork on top and spoon over sauce. Serve hot.