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date night chop on butternut squash with sage mushrooms

In this quick dinner, I simplified a favorite meal in the interest of time and even cut a few calories. The chops can be grilled in good weather if you like, though here I brown them on the stove top and finish in the oven. If serving with asparagus or green beans, make those first, place on a platter on table and serve at room temperature or reheat while the chops rest and then plate everything together. Read through the recipe before you begin as you might choose to begin by brining the meat.
Servings: 2
Author: Alyce Morgan/More Time at the Table
Cost: $20.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound peeled and diced butternut squash
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter + 1 teaspoon, divided
  • 1 ounce Parmigiano Reggiano, grated (1/4 cup)
  • 2 bone-in 1 to 1 ½ inches-thick pork chops, approximately 8 ounces each, brined*
  • Canola or peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 large cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
  • ½ pound cooked and seasoned fresh asparagus or green beans. Can also add a few fresh sliced tomatoes for serving- if desired

Instructions

  • COOK BUTTERNUT SQUASH: Place squash in a 6-quart soup pot and add water, covering by a couple of inches. Stir in a teaspoon and a half each of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until squash is very tender—about 15 minutes. Drain, return to pan and add the tablespoon of salted butter along with the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Mash to desired consistency, adding a drizzle or two of milk for a thinner mash. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  • COOK THE PORK CHOPS: Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees and place rack at center. To a heavy (cast iron is good) skillet, add 1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil. Heat over medium-high flame. Meanwhile, pat chops dry with paper towels, brush both sides of chops with canola or peanut oil and season very well with salt and pepper. Add chops to hot skillet and cook until quite brown on one side–3 or 4 minutes. Turn and brown the other side. Place skillet in oven and roast until chops are at 145 degrees F on an instant read thermometer or just barely done, still juicy, and somewhat rosy. Begin testing after 5 minutes. Remove, cover loosely with foil, and let rest in pan to keep hot.
  • SAUTE THE MUSHROOMS AND SHALLOTS: In a 9-inch skillet, heat the reserved teaspoon of butter along with one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms, shallots, and minced sage. Season with a generous pinch of pepper, but no salt. Let sit a minute before stirring, then cook until the shallots are tender and the mushrooms are browned, perhaps 5 minutes or so. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt once the mushrooms are done. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover to keep warm if necessary.
  • PLATE AND SERVE: Spoon about a cup of the mashed butternut squash into each of 2 shallow bowls, add chops at the center, and top with a couple of tablespoons of the mushroom mixture. Place green vegetables or tomatoes to the side of the mashed squash, if using. Serve hot.

*TO BRINE PORK CHOPS

  • Place a sealable gallon plastic bag open inside a medium bowl and add a cup of warm water. Whisk in 2 tablespoons each kosher salt and granulated sugar until dissolved.  Add two cups cold water and whisk again. Add a sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary--optional.  Gently ease the chops into the water, adding more water to cover if needed.  Seal the bag well and let rest for 15-30 minutes at room temperature.

Notes

Cook’s Notes: The squash can be made up to two days ahead, cooled, stored in the refrigerator and warmed over low flame (covered and stirred often) or microwaved when you need it.
If it’s just you, make the whole meal anyway and warm up the second portion another night.
Want chicken instead? Roast 2 bone-in chicken breasts with skin: Brush with olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast on a small rimmed baking sheet or casserole dish in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until instant read thermometer registers at 165 degrees F. Let rest 2 minutes before serving.
Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2019. All rights reserved.