Jalapeño Popper Polenta is packed with flavor and only takes a few minutes to prepare- spicy with jalapeños and cheesy with cheddar, it’s an ideal side dish for your summer dinners.
Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Smithfield® Marinated Fresh Pork. The opinions and text are all mine. #RealFlavorRealFast @SmithfieldBrand
Grilling season is here! I am overjoyed for a few reasons:
- It’s so nice to be outside- the kids can play while I throw things on the grill and relax with a cocktail.
- The amount of dishes that I have to do drops by about 75%.
- It’s so easy to make your food flavorful- I do things so much differently than when I cook inside.
My favorite way to flavor food through the grill is through a rub or a marinade. There is just one problem with this- I am frequently flying by the seat of my pants, and rarely have the wherewithal to remember to start something marinating the night before (too tired) or in the morning (kids outrank me on the energy scale). This is unfortunate, because it’s the single best way to impart flavor and juiciness all through your meat.
Enter Smithfield, and their line of Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork. These are marinated and seasoned right in the packaging, so all you have to do is open the package and throw on the grill. Tender, juicy and no forethought required on my behalf!
I used the Slow Smoked Mesquite Flavor Fresh Pork Loin Filet (available at Kroger stores), and made this Jalapeño Popper Polenta to pair with the smoky flavor of the pork loin. One of the things I love about polenta is that it cooks up unbelievably fast- you can have this done in under 10 minutes. The other great thing about it? It’s basically the definition of a “blank slate.” While it’s good as is (it’s my go-to pairing for braised short ribs), I love turning it into something else entirely by adding different mix-ins, like my Smoked Gouda Polenta. In this case, I added diced fresh jalapeños and a few handfuls of cheddar cheese to this, along with some cream cheese for added creaminess, to emulate the taste of the popular appetizer in a quick side dish.
To add an extra kick to it (although for my wimpy tastes, this had plenty of heat), I coated some sliced jalapeños in some of the polenta meal and fried them up for a kicking topping.
The meal turned out great. I used my bluetooth meat thermometer to grill the pork loin to 155 degrees F, rotating it every 5 minutes or so, then pulled it off the grill and let it continue to come up to 160 degrees F on my cutting board while it rested. I am super careful when it comes to cooking pork not to overcook it, since pork dries out in about a half a second within it being at the right temperature. The pork turned out crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and packed full of smoky flavor. Everyone loved it, and it paired super well with the spicy and cheesy polenta. Smithfield delivers real flavor, real fast every time!
You can get a coupon offer for $1 off any Smithfield Marinated product when you go to Checkout 51.
Jalepeno Popper Polenta
- 1 cup polenta
- 5 cups milk
- 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- salt & pepper
- 1 egg
- 2 jalapeños, cut into rounds
- 1/4 cup polenta
- vegetable oil, for frying
In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups of milk to a simmer.
Pour in the polenta and jalapeños and stir until thickened. Sprinkle in the cheddar cheese until melted in, then add remaining milk until creamy. Feel free to add more milk or water as needed to achieve a creamy texture.
Add a thin layer of vegetable oil to a small skillet over medium high heat.
Beat the egg in a small bowl. Add the sliced jalapeños to the egg and turn to coat. Add the polenta to a small dish. Remove the jalapeños from the egg, allowing any excess to drip off, and add to polenta. Turn to coat evenly.
Add the breaded jalepenos to the hot oil and quickly fry, turning until both sides are golden brown.
Serve polenta topped with fried jalapeños.