Now that I’ve had some time to sample more of our 2020 Harvest Festival menu items, I’m ready to share with you my favorites and to tell you that this will always be in my list of things to do this fall. [Full disclosure: you could probably sway me to choose other options—they’re all pretty good.]
I love that Dollywood is a theme park where one of the memorable moments is always the meal. It’s a treat when you can pause your fun to sit down to a fantastic spread—which is also pretty fun!
My choice on this one is the Center-Cut Pork Chop with Jalapeño Bacon Jam from Front Porch Café. Typically, I prefer savory to sweet. I had to watch our Culinary Team plate this fine fare for a video shoot—and I didn’t get to try it. You better believe, the first day our Harvest Festival presented by Humana opened, I had lunch at Front Porch Café so I could take care of that misfortune I had experienced. The wait was worth it.
*Scroll to the end of this blog to see the video I was talking about along with the recipe so you can make it at home!
Quick Service Fix
I went back and forth on which quick service Harvest item to tell you about, but if you put my feet to the fire, I’m going to go with the Smoked Brisket. It’s the one that’s the most-recommended by our chefs. The brisket is just a great cut of meat, perfectly smoked and paired with a tasty bean salad and tangy slaw. You can find this offering at the festival booth between Country Cookers Kettle Corn and Aunt Granny’s Restaurant.
Honorable mention goes to both our Italian Sausage with Onions and Peppers and the Fried Green Tomato BLT.
Favorite Fall Treat
Is it ever NOT a good time for ice cream? The answer is no. It’s always a good time for ice cream. The Chocolate-Dipped Waffle Sundae is a delectable Harvest Festival treat. Using pearled-sugar, this waffle is (as the name says) dipped in chocolate, and it’s just what you need to try before you leave Dollywood. You can find this at Showstreet Ice Cream—also known as Sweet Shoppe.
*BONUS* My Pumpkin-Flavored Pick
Because we’re talking fall food, I’d be neglectful to not give you my rec for a pumpkin item. The flavor is plentiful at Spotlight Bakery, and there’s a milkshake that may interest you at Red’s Drive-In, but I’m going to have to go with the Pumpkin Praline Funnel Cake. It photographs pretty, and it tastes even better. Remember, all these festival items are available until Oct. 31.
I’m going to close out this blog with Dollywood’s Executive Chef Rudy Torres discussing the Center-Cut Pork Chop with Jalapeño Bacon Jam.
Recipe: Dollywood’s Center-Cut Pork Chop with Jalapeño Bacon Jam
Serves 10 people
5lb. Pork Chops- 8 oz. ea.
Kosher Salt- ¼ cup
Granulated Sugar- ¼ cup
Water- ½ gallon
Bacon Jalapeño Jam:
Caramelized Diced Onion- ½ cup
Roasted Jalapeños – ¼ cup
Diced Smoked Bacon- ½ cup
Roasted Garlic- 2 tablespoons
Apple Cider Vinegar- 1 1/2 cup
Brown Light Cane Sugar- 1 cup
Bacon Jalapeño Jam: Place apple cider vinegar and brown sugar in medium sauce pan over medium heat. Stir often. Cook until reduced volume by half. Add in other ingredients: caramelized onions, roasted jalapeños, roasted garlic and diced smoked bacon. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the liquid begins to thicken.
Pork Chops: Combine sugar, salt and water to make the brine. Soak the pork chops in the brine for about four hours and grill. Top with Jalapeño Bacon Jam.