Pork Chops with Squash and Sage


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I have a black thumb, just so you know.  I love to grow plants, food, and herbs and even flowers, but they never seem to last very long.  I think I either over-water to the point they get root rot or completely forget about them until they are all dried up. 

I had a lovely Easter Lily that was full and beautiful.  I don’t remember how long I had it, but I do remember that it made the move from the apartment to our first house (current house that is; I just wanted to stress first because I still can’t believe I own a home).  I kept it in the bathroom, but I decided to move it because my husband keeps the heat up so high and the bathroom is located just above the furnace.  It is the warmest room in the house and it was drying out my lily.  I think my husband should just sleep in the bathroom so we can keep the rest of the house cooler.  So far he has not agreed.  So I moved the lily to another room and never watered it again.

However, I did have great luck with a basil plant.  I think they are supposed to be annuals, but I had this one for 3 years.  I kept it in the kitchen, so it got much more attention.  Also basil likes lots of water so no root rot!  It too made the move from the apartment to the house.  So when it started getting cold outside, I thought to myself that I should try to bring in the herbs and see if I can let them live a while longer.  I think they are supposed to stay outside and ride it out, but last winter was so bad, everything died.  I mean everything.  So I got some cheap hanging baskets and transferred all my herbs into them and brought them inside.  Later I decided they were too heavy to hang, whatever.

One of the herbs I grew this year was sage.  I know sage is one of those herbs that just screams autumn, but this year I grew something called pineapple sage.  It is much more summery because it does actually remind you of pineapples.  So I used them in this recipe.  It is meant for ordinary sage, so don’t be afraid to use it.
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Pork Chops with Butternut Squash and Sage

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups water, divided
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 pork chops, 3/4 to 1-inch thick (bone-in pork loin)
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise or cubed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 a lemon)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Prepare the brine:  Place 5 cups of cold water in a large bowl.  In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and 4 sage leaves.  Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Once dissolved, add salt mixture to the bowl of cold water.

Brine the pork chops for at least 10 minutes.  Chop three sage leaves and set aside.

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together the squash, 2 tablespoons oil, .and 5 sage leaves.  Season with nutmeg and salt.  Roast until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the pork from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.  Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet and cook the pork chops to an internal temperature of 140 degrees F.  This will take about 5 to 7 minutes per side.  Remove pork to a plate to rest.

Add chicken broth to the skillet and the remaining tablespoon of brown sugar.  Simmer and stir until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and squeeze in the lemon juice and sprinkle in the chopped sage.  Taste and add salt if needed.

To serve:  Place a pork chop on each of 4 plates and drizzle with the pan sauce. Serve the squash on the side.

Serves 4.