It’s Thursday, and I’ve actually been doing this for a whole week now and it’s still going. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am. Today’s menu involves a little more work than the previous ones, but it’s not so labor intensive that you couldn’t do it on a weeknight, you just need a little time to do it. It might be better suited for a Saturday or Sunday meal, but since I have the time today to do it, we are going to give it a shot. Today I am making Pork Chops with Butternut Squash and Apple Stuffing, Roasted Potatoes, and Swiss Chard with Garlic and Shallots. It sounds fancy, but it’s pretty easy to make. There are a few ingredients that you may not have around the house for this one, so you may have to do some shopping. It’s one of the things I use the family meal planner for at the beginning of the week:family_meal_planner.
There are a lot of different variations of pork chops available for use with this recipe. The only thing to keep in mind is that you want chops large enough for you to stuff. Whether you choose them on the bone or not is up to you. Today, I am using some large boneless chops I found at the store this week that were on sale. Bone-in chops work really well this recipe also. I also bought butternut squash that was already peeled and diced to make things a little easier for me, but you could easily do it yourself.
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 (or any apple you prefer)
6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large shallot, diced
1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (about 1/2 this if using dried)
1 1/4 cups bread crumbs
4 pork loin chops (bone in if you choose; I am actually using boneless center cut chops this time)
1 onion, diced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups water
3 teaspoons chicken stock
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, stir together the butternut squash, celery, apple and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, about 10 seconds. Add the squash mixture and cook until just softened, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the heat and let cool. Stir in the bread crumbs.
Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Insert a sharp knife into the side of the chop (opposite the bone if you are using bone-in) making a long slit all the way down. Wiggle the knife to form a large pocket. Repeat with the remaining chops. Stuff each chop with 1/2 cup stuffing, packing it into the pocket with your fingers.
Set a pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Brown the chops, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to the oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the stuffing reads 160 degrees F, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chops to a platter. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Strain any juices into a smaller bowl; set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion and apple and cook, stirring, until softened, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the water, chicken stock, and reserved pan juices and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce begins to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in the vinegar. Using an immersion blender (or blender, or food processor) puree the sauce until smooth. Place the pork chops on individual plates and drizzle with the sauce.
Not too bad, right? A little more work and a little more equipment used in this one, but it’s still not a tough one to do. I have extra butternut squash from the package I bought, so I can use that either for a side dish for another meal or get a little more squash and make some soup with it later on in the week. I don’t use a lot of apple cider vinegar, but I do have a small bottle on hand to use. You just have to watch the expiration date if you don’t use it often.
The roasted potatoes are fairly easy, they just take a little time to cook. I am using fingerling potatoes, but you could use red potatoes, or new potatoes, or really any potato you like to use and have on hand. Roasted sweet potatoes are great. It’s very simple and straightforward.
2 pounds fingerling potatoes (or any potato you like), quartered
1/4 cup olive oil (or less, I usually just eyeball this)
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (1/2 this if using dried)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a bowl combine the potatoes, oil, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to coat the potatoes evenly. Transfer to a baking pan or rimmed baking sheet and roast until the potatoes are tender, golden brown and crisp, about 45 minutes.
A very easy dish to complete, I think. Now on to the Swiss chard. It’s not something I make very often. As a matter of fact, I don’t think Sean has ever had it. Chard is a bitter, leafy vegetable with colorful stems. It is a member of the beet family and is highly nutritious. It’s used a lot in Mediterranean cooking and I thought it might be something different to try. When sautéed, it’s a lot like spinach and a lot of the bitterness cooks out. if you’re wary of trying it, you could easily substitute spinach into this recipe and it would work fine. I have leftover broccoli from earlier dinners this week on standby in case Sean won’t eat this.
Swiss Chard with Garlic and Shallots
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, I am leaving them out because I want Sean to at least try it)
3 bunches Swiss chard, stems and ribs removed, leaves cut into 1/2-inch strips
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the chard to the pan in batches, about one-third at a time, waiting until each batch wilts slightly before adding more (it cooks down quite a bit and quickly, like spinach). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
If your family won’t go for the Swiss chard or spinach, you could substitute any vegetable you feel like having for the evening. Just about anything will go well with the pork chops and potatoes. And I am sure you could add in some applesauce, if you desire.
So another recipe is in the books for the day. Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions you may have. Tomorrow night is the non-meat night of the week, and Sean has chosen, what else, but pizza for the dinner. We’ll actually be making our own, so check in for that one and I would love everyone’s suggestions for pizza night. I think lots of people make some great and interesting pizzas. We’ll be having salad along with it, because every meal needs a vegetable, so I am going to try to find a good dressing for the salad as well. Pass along any suggestions you might have for that as well. I’ll also print out the meal planner for next week and start filling that in. I’ll let you know what everyone picks, and if you have ideas of what you might like to see, pass them along!