As we head into peak comfort-food season, pot roast, mac 'n' cheese and chili beckon—but before you head down the usual path, we'd like to suggest a detour to what might be the best fall recipe we've tried in a long time. It's familiar, but with a couple of twists that make it feel fresh and different; it's apple-y, but not overly so; and, it's perfectly rich and filling. This dish is just the thing you want simmering on your stove after a cool day, but not something that'll actually take you all day to make.

Say hello to Cider-Braised Pork Meatballs with Creamy Polenta, from Jenny Rosenstrach's new book, How to Celebrate Everything: Recipes and Rituals for Birthdays, Holidays, Family Dinners, and Every Day In Between. Rosenstrach, who writes the blog Dinner: A Love Story, starts her pork meatballs with two common enough ingredients—bread crumbs and eggs—but then adds chopped, fresh sage leaves and lemon zest, so the meatballs have a warm, woodsy flavor that's bright, too.

Once you brown the meatballs (Rosenstrach's trick for keeping them nicely round: Use a nonstick skillet, which prevents pieces of meat from sticking to the pan and meatballs from falling apart; hers is ceramic nonstick), you make the savory-sweet braising liquid. It starts with a sautéed shallot, in goes some tomato paste and a dash of sugar, then chicken stock, hard cider, apple-cider vinegar and butter. You simmer the browned meatballs in this mixture for 15 or 20 minutes, until they're cooked-through yet tender.

These meatballs would be delicious enough on their own, but you'd be selling that superflavorful braising liquid short if you didn't serve everything atop a creamy puddle of polenta. Making it is as simple as pouring cornmeal into boiling stock and letting it bubble for half an hour, until it's thick. Ladle a spoonful onto each plate, then top with a few meatballs and some sauce. The apple-cider vinegar gives the entire dish a little hit of brightness; the meatballs are satisfying and warm, and nice and juicy, thanks to the braise. Pot roast, we know you'll still be there in December; but for now, we're cozying up to this fantastic reinvention of an old favorite.

Get the recipe: Cider-Braised Pork Meatballs with Creamy Polenta


Next Story