With all the holiday frenzy, it’s important to keep celebrations simple, surrounded by family and friends and the warmth of tradition. My wife, Lindsay, and her family have a Thanksgiving tradition where at the end of the meal, we pass around a beautiful old bottle and corn kernels. Everyone drops a kernel into the bottle and says something they are thankful for.
Guests at your next gathering will be grateful for Cider-Dijon Pork Chops with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples — a quick, under-30-minute recipe that’s a real crowd-pleaser. Apples are best this time of year, and while I use Pink Lady and Fuji varieties, almost any will work. Root vegetables and tubers are also ubiquitous in the fall. The earthiness of the fennel and sweet potato balances nicely with the sweetness of the apples. Roasting the vegetables and apple creates a beautiful caramelization that brings sweetness to the dish. Pan searing the pork chops keeps the cooking time quick, leaving nice, browned bits of pork in the pan that you can use to develop a delicious sauce for the meal. Serve the recipe on individual plates or family-style on a platter.
Frisée and Carrot Salad with Ale Vinaigrette is a great companion to the pork dish. The slightly bitter frisée is part of the chicory family, and the white part of the leaf has a nice crunch that pairs well with carrots.
Editor’s note: Look for the award-winning chef as head judge of Top Chef Junior on Universal Kids.
Cider-Dijon Pork Chops with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples
(Makes 4 servings)
Vegetables and apples:
- 1 pound red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
- 2 Pink Lady or Fuji apples, cored and cut lengthwise into eighths
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and cut lengthwise into eighths
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 boneless pork loin chops (each about 7 ounces and 1 inch thick)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup apple cider or apple juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into two pieces
Remove pork from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while oven preheats. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place large rimmed baking sheet in oven and heat until very hot.
Vegetables and apples: In large bowl, toss sweet potatoes, apples, fennel, and rosemary with oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Carefully remove baking sheet from oven and spread vegetables and apples on it. Roast, turning ingredients over halfway through, for 15 minutes or until potatoes are nicely browned and tender.
Meanwhile, cook pork: Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and then add chops to skillet and cook for 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and barely pink when pierced in center. Transfer to platter (reserving oil in skillet) and let stand for 5 minutes. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon oil from skillet, leaving brown bits in pan. Return pan to medium-low heat, add apple cider, and bring to a simmer, scraping up brown bits. Whisk in mustard and simmer for about 2 minutes to reduce liquid slightly.
Remove from heat and whisk in butter to lightly thicken sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide sweet potato mixture among four dinner plates. Place a pork chop alongside vegetables on each plate. Drizzle with pan sauce and serve.
- Calories: 640
- Total Fat: 30 g
- Saturated Fat: 9 g
- Sodium: 243 mg
- Carbohydrate: 56 g
- Fiber: 8 g
- Protein: 34 g
- Diabetic Exchanges: 1.5 starch, 5 very lean meat, ¼ vegetable, 2 fruit, 5 fat
Frisée and Carrot Salad with Ale Vinaigrette
(Makes 6 servings)
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 3 tablespoons sour rye ale or apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 carrots, peeled
- 3 heads frisée lettuce, white parts only (about 6 cups)
In large bowl, whisk shallots, ale, vinegar, and mustard to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Using vegetable peeler, peel long thin strips down length of carrots. Toss carrot strips with frisée in large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Divide salad among plates and serve.
- Calories: 140
- Total Fat: 12 g
- Saturated Fat: 2 g
- Sodium: 102 mg
- Carbohydrate: 7 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 1 g
- Diabetic Exchanges: 1.25 vegetable, 2.5 fat
This article is from the November/December 2018 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
Excerpted from What’s for Dinner? by Curtis Stone. Copyright ©2013 by Curtis Stone. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Too many times I have seen people ask market venders to remove the tops from their carrots. What they don’t realize is the tops are delicious!
Carrots belong to the parsley family. And the green tops have a flavor very similar to parsley, making them an excellent ingredient in pesto. The most flavorful tops are found on young carrots, and blanching them allows for a smooth, beautifully vibrant green pesto. For this root-to-stem recipe, we used Nelson carrots from Happy Boy Farms in the Jack London Square Farmer’s Market of Oakland, California.
Carrot Top Pesto
- 1 bunch young carrots
- 1 cup arugula (optional)
- ¼ cup almonds in shell
- 1-2 teaspoons green garlic
- ½ cup olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Remove greens from carrots.
- Blanch greens in salted water until tender and bright green.
- Remove greens from water and shock in ice bath. Squeeze out water and set aside.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 with arugula, and then with carrot bottoms.
- Blanch almonds until shells become loose. Remove almonds from water and allow to cool. Shell and set aside.
- Combine carrot greens, arugula, garlic, almonds, olive oil, and lemon in food processor. Blend until smooth, adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss pesto with blanched carrots, and serve. Pesto can also be tossed with your favorite spring salads, pasta, and veggies, or spread it on a sandwich.
Recipe created by Mario Hernandez, program coordinator and market chef for Cookin’ the Market
Makes 3 servings
- 2 cups fresh carrot cut in julienne strips
- 3/4 cup pineapple juice
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/16 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a medium saucepan combine carrots, pineapple juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are just tender, about 15 minutes.