You know that Le Creuset Dutch oven you registered for all those years ago? The one that remains spotlessly clean on a high shelf? First of all, no Dutch oven should ever be spotless. Second of all, get to know the pot. In the winter, few things create a happy home vibe as effortlessly as the smell of something braising all day in a Dutch oven. Here’s the world’s best way to get you started. — Jenny Rosenstrach in Dinner: The Playbook
- 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 2½-pound pork loin, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
- 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ Teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 chipotle in adobo (not the sauce, just the dripping single pepper; you can freeze the rest)
- ½ Cup cider vinegar (or store-bought vinegar-based barbecue sauce such as Shealy’s)
- 2 garlic cloves, halved
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 Cup medium or fine cornmeal
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- ½ Cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
- Handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed ovenproof pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the pork on all sides in the hot oil, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the pork and add the tomatoes, oregano, cumin, bay leaf, chipotle, cider vinegar, garlic, onions, and ¼ cup water to the pot; it should be about two-thirds immersed in liquid. Bring to a boil, cover, and place in the oven for 2 ½ to 3 hours. (The pork should be practically falling apart when finished.)
While the pork is braising, make the polenta: Bring 4 cups salted water to a boil in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Pour the cornmeal into the pot slowly, whisking as you go. The mixture will thicken after 2 or 3 minutes. Reduce the heat and let the mixture bubble on the stovetop for another 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and adding water if it becomes too thick for your liking. Before serving, remove the polenta from the heat and stir in the butter and Cheddar.
Remove the pork from the pot to a cutting board or platter, shred with two forks, and toss back in the braising liquid. Remove the bay leaf.
Sprinkle the cilantro over the pork and serve with the polenta.