Holiday recipes: Roasted pork belly with acorn squash, broccolini + polenta 2 ways

Chef Leo Davila of Catch the Wave shares creative holiday dish, appetizer

Looking for something new to add to your holiday recipe repertoire? Try this! Watch the video for tips and look for the recipes on

SAN ANTONIO – Looking for something new to add to your holiday recipe repertoire? Try this!

Chef Leo Davila, of Catch the Wave, is known for his award-winning tacos and now he’s helping to take your holiday meal to the next level with mouth-watering roasted pork, succulent broccolini and creamy polenta, two ways.

Don’t forget to follow Davila and Catch the Wave on Instagram to check out where his next pop-up will be.

Watch the video above for the pork recipe. The polenta is in the video below. Recipes are below.

Roasted pork belly with acorn squash puree, sautéed sesame broccolini


For the pork belly:

  • 3 pork bellies, skinless
  • 3 ounces Kosher salt
  • 3 ounces red pepper flakes
  • 3 ounces brown sugar

For the acorn squash:

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 4 ounces heavy whipping cream, warm, more if needed
  • 2 ounces chicken stock, warm, more if needed
  • 1 ounce butter
  • Kosher salt, pepper, to taste
  • Vegetable oil, as needed

For the broccolini:

  • 2 bunches broccolini
  • 1 ounce sesame oil
  • 2 ounces green onions, cut on the bias
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Directions for the pork belly:

Score the top side of the pork belly with a sharp knife. Form a crosshatch pattern approximately one-half inch thick. Liberally season the pork belly with the spice blend.

Marinate for as long as 24 hours, or as little as 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 300°F. Roast marinated pork belly, skin side up, for an hour and a half.

Remove pork belly from oven, set oven temperature to 450°F. Return pork belly to the oven, roast for 20 to 35 minutes. At this point, you will need to watch the pork belly to ensure it does not burn.

Remove pork belly when it is golden brown and delicious. Allow pork belly to rest for 25 minutes.

Cut into cubes or slices. Serve and enjoy.

Directions for the acorn squash:

Preheat an oven to 425°F

Using a sharp knife, split the acorn squashes in half, removing the seeds with a spoon. Season the squash with oil, salt and pepper.

On a roasting sheet, place the squash cut side up and roast for 1 hour. The squash will be fork tender when it is done.

Using a spoon, or sharp knife, remove the inside “meat” of the squash from the skin. Place the “meat” into a blender.

Add the warm chicken stock and heavy cream to the blender. Puree the mixture for 7 minutes. Continue to add cream and chicken stock until you have reached desired consistency.

Pass mixture through a fine mesh strainer to ensure your puree is silky smooth.

Serve immediately or reserve for later use. Finish with a pat of butter for added creaminess and sheen.

Directions for the broccolini:

1. Preheat a sauté pan to medium-high heat.

Trim the broccolini stems by 1 inch to remove add hard or woody parts.

Add sesame oil, garlic and green onions to the preheated pan, cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the broccolini one at time, be careful not to crowd your pan. Cook on each side for 2 to 3 minutes. We are still looking for a bite to the broccolini.

Serve immediately and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

How to plate the dish:

Place a 3-ounce portion of the acorn squash puree on the left side of the plate.

Drape the broccolini greens over the puree on the right side.

Nestle in your pork belly slices or cubes to fill in the middle gap.

*TIP: Plating is subjective, have fun, be creative and find your style.

Creamy polenta, 2 ways, with mushroom chorizo gravy


For the polenta:

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 3 ounces white cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

For the mushroom chorizo gravy:

  • 8 ounces chorizo
  • 3 ounces onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces Oaxacan, white cheddar or any melting cheese
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more if needed
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Cornstarch, as needed
  • Chicken stock, as needed
  • 4 ounces green onions, cut on the bias

Directions for the creamy polenta:

Bring milk and 3 cups water to a boil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium. Whisking constantly, gradually add polenta; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and cook, whisking every 10 to 15 minutes, until thickened and no longer gritty, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and add parmesan, butter and salt. Cook, whisking, until butter and cheese are melted and polenta is the consistency of porridge, about 1 minute.

*Do ahead: Polenta can be made 3 hours ahead. Store covered at room temperature. Reheat over medium-low, adding milk as needed to loosen.

Directions for the baked and pan-fried polenta:

Preheat oven to 425°F. On a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, pour out creamy polenta mixture. Using a spatula, spread out polenta evenly to ensure a consistent bake. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and delicious.

Slide baked polenta onto a cutting board, using a knife, or festive cookie cutters, cut out 1 inch by 1 inch squares. Preheat a sauté pan, add oil and sauté the polenta squares for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside for assembly.

Directions for the mushroom chorizo gravy:

Preheat a sauce pot to medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil plus onions and garlic; sauté for 5 to 7 minutes.

Add mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes, continuously stirring to ensure you do not burn the mixture.

Add chorizo and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.

Add 4 ounces of chicken stock and cook for 3 minutes. Make a cornstarch slurry, add to thicken up the gravy. Be careful not to add too much. Add then cook for 4 minutes at a time. Serve immediately.

To plate the creamy polenta:

Add polenta to a bowl or small serving ramekin.

Finish with the mushroom chorizo gravy.

Garnish with green onions.

To plate the baked and fried polenta:

Place cut out polenta onto a serving dish or a charcuterie board.

Finish with the mushroom chorizo gravy.

Garnish with green onions.

A twist on the traditional holiday appetizer

About the Author:

Diana Winters is a San Antonio-area native, Emmy award-winning and GLAAD-nominated journalist and baker who loves the Alamo City. She is the executive producer of SA Live, creator of South Texas PRIDE and co-creator of Texas Eats.