Stuffed Pork Chops over Butternut Squash Sweet Potato Rissoto
(I apologize for the low-quality picture; it was taken on a camera phone.)
My mother-in-law was a lifesaver last month and watched our dogs for us while we were away in Oregon. As part of our thank you to her, my husband cooked her an incredible gourmet meal of pork chops stuffed with leeks and chevre, served over roast squash and sweet potato rissoto with a sherry-shallot demiglaze. He says of the meal:
"When fall rolls around, I start to crave the rich flavors of roasted root vegetables, winter squash, fruit preserves, and pork. In the Appalachians, late fall was the time when a hog was strung up and slaughtered, its fat rendered into lard, and the meat cured for storage over the winter. It's little surprise that pig goes so well with the robust, sweet, and smoky flavors of autumn and winter. This recipe is a throw-back to the feasting at the hog slaughter but with a distinctly continental flare."
Pork Chops Stuffed with Leeks and Chevre, Served over Roast Squash and Sweet Potato Rissoto with Sherry-Shallot Demiglaze
- 2 large, center-cut loin chops
- 1 leek (or several scallions or ramps)
- 1/3 cup chevre
- 2 cups sherry
- 6 shallot cloves
- salt and pepper
- 2 cups mixture of cubed butternut and acorn squash and sweet potato
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of saffron
1. Set out the pork chops for about an hour, allowing them to warm to room temperature.
2. While the pork chops are coming to room temperature, cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Peel the squash and sweet potato and cut them into 1" cubes. Toss them lightly in olive oil and arrange them on a baking sheet. Roast them in a 400 degree Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius) oven until they are browned (times vary). When they are roasted, use the back of a fork to mash them.
3. With a sharp paring knife, hold the pork chop and knife perpendicular to the cutting board (so that you are cutting down into the edge of the pork chop) and cut a slit into the meatiest portion of the chop. Without widening the slit beyond an inch or so, cut a pocket into the inside of the chop. Finely chop the leek--discarding most of the green top. Mix the leek with the chevre, making sure that the cheese is soft and malleable. Stuff the mixture into the chop. Rub the chop down with salt and pepper and set aside.
4. About thirty-five minutes from serving time, ensure that all of the ingredients are ready. Begin the rice by browning the minced onion in 1 tbsp or so of butter. When the onions are a rich brown, add another 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil. When the butter and oil are hot, add the rice, saffron, and cinnamon and toss them in the butter and onions. Add about 1/4 cup wine and stir it until it is absorbed, then start adding the stock a little at a time. You should stir frequently between each addition of stock and wait until the moisture is absorbed before adding more. Once the rice is soft and smooth, stir in the pureed squash and sweet potato mixture and add the rest of the butter. Cover until ready to serve.
5. While the rice is cooking, cook the pork chops. Lightly oil a large pan and heat it over high heat. Sear the chops on both sides, then reduce heat to medium, add the shallots, and cover the pan. Flip the chops after about five minutes. The pork is done when the internal temperature registers 160 degrees. Remove it from the pan and set it aside, covered, in a place where they will stay warm.
6. To make the demiglaze, add the sherry to the hot pan with the shallots and increase heat to medium-high. Stir it well, making sure to scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the sherry by about two thirds.
7. When everything is ready to serve, put a pile of the risotto in the center of each plate and set a chop on top, slightly to one side. Drizzle demiglaze around it with some shallots. Add a few sprigs of asparagus or green beans and garnish with parsley.