Since everyone is always so busy during the week and you may not have time for dinners that can take an hour or two to cook or to take the time to put everything together so that it looks nice when you serve it, you probably typically wait to do something like that for the weekend. I know that is what I usually do since dinners around here can sometimes be rushed or eaten late in the evening because of everyone’s schedule so you may not want to serve something heavy. On the weekends however, I tend to look for meals that I can take more time to put into and serve dishes that we may not typically have. Such is the case with this particular recipe I found from Williams-Sonoma for pork chops with butternut squash and Apple stuffing. I just happen to be shopping at Adam’s market and saw that they had some very nice, thick pork chops for a very good price and this was the perfect opportunity to try a recipe just like this. We do not normally have pork chops that are anywhere near this thick or even usually on the bones since Boneless ones can cook quicker and make an ideal choice for weeknight meals. This recipe was quite a bit more elegant, more hearty and looks great when you serve it.
Pork Chops with Butternut Squash and Apple Stuffing
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced Granny Smith apple
6 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/4 cups toasted breadcrumbs
4 double-cut, bone-in pork loin chops, each about 12 ounces and 1 1/2 inches thick
1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chicken stock
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Preheat an oven to 400°.
In a large bowl, stir together the butternut squash, celery, apple and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season everything with salt and pepper. Set the bowl aside.
In a large braising pan set over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 seconds. Add the squash mixture and cook until it is just softened, about 7 to 8 minutes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool. Once it is cooled, stir in the breadcrumbs.
Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Insert a sharp knife into the side of the chop opposite from the bone, making a long slit along the curve all the way to the bone. Wiggle the knife to form a large pocket in the pork chop. Repeat the process with the remaining chops. Stuff each chop with 1/2 cup of the stuffing, packing it into the pocket with your fingers. Feel the pork chops closed by inserting toothpicks through the opening to help keep the stuffing inside.
Set a cast-iron grill pan or large, oven safe skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Working in batches, brown the pork chops, turning once, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Return all the chops to the pan and transfer them to the oven. Roast the pork chops until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the stuffing registers 160°, about 20 to 25 minutes. Lift out the chops and transfer them to a platter. Cover the chops loosely with aluminum foil and allow them to rest for 5 minutes. Strain any pan juices into a small bowl; set the bowl aside.
In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and Apple and cook, stirring, until softened, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, water and reserved pan juices and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in the apple cider vinegar. Using an immersion blender, purée the sauce until it is smooth. Place the pork chops on individual plates and drizzle with the sauce or serve together on a large platter.
The only changes I decided to make to the recipe were that I added some spinach to the stuffing because I had some on hand and it was a nice addition of flavor and as I was roasting the pork chops I placed them over some potatoes and root vegetables that had been parboiled ahead of time so that everything would roast together and be done at about the same time. This also allowed the potatoes and vegetables to pick up some of the juices and flavor from the pork chops. The stuffing for the pork chops was great and had excellent flavor to it, with the apples and squash really helping to enhance the stuffing. You want to make sure you remember to take the toothpicks out of the pork chops before you serve them so that no one inadvertently tries to bite into one. Along with the roasted potatoes and vegetables, I served this with some of the roasted butternut squash soup that I had previously made to make it a nice, hearty meal that was perfect for the cooler fall weather we were having. While it may not be something that you cook that often, it is a good recipe to have for your weekend arsenal, particularly when the pork chops are on sale.
That is all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!