I was armed with a decent quantity of pumpkins - some for decor purposes, others for recipe purposes - and was ready to start brainstorming. Obviously, desserts come to mind when you think of pumpkin...pumpkin pie, pumpkin pudding, pumpkin ice cream, you name it! I'm down with some pumpkin ice cream though, that's for sure. But as per usual, I was ready to make something savory instead. I was planning on making a simple vegetarian dish, playing around with the pumpkin, but of course came across some beautiful pork chops - and alas, my vegetarian dish was a bust. Clearly, the pork can be omitted from this, but I'd have to make a few additions to really pump up the flavor.
Needless to say, this dish is perfect on a cold, damp, Autumn day...and we seem to be getting quite a few of those lately. If only I had a fireplace to complete the scene!
Thyme & Cider Glazed Pork Chop with Pumpkin
4 center cup pork chops, bone-in
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
3 T thyme leaves
1/2 cup apple cider
Heavily salt the pork chops on both sides, and allow to sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes. (You can make the pumpkin components during this time!). When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 300F. Cook the pork chops in the oven for about ten minutes. After ten minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle about a teaspoon of thyme leaves on the exposed side of the pork. Place the chops, thyme side down into a heated saute or cast-iron pan, heated over medium heat. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until golden brown. Sprinkle the remaining side of each with 1 t thyme leaves, flip, and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until golden. Remove from heat and allow to sit for at least ten minutes. While the pork is resting, pour the apple cider into the pan to deglaze, and reduce down to a syrup. Brush the pork chops with the cider glaze.
To plate, spoon a bit of the pumpkin puree down, and place one chop atop. Divide the pumpkin saute evenly amongst the four plates. Finish with a sprinkling of thyme leaves and enjoy!
Pumpkin Puree and Sauteed Pumpkin
5 cups diced pumpkin (from about 2.5# pumpkin - seeds reserved)
4 T olive oil
2 T walnut oil
1 T red wine vinegar
~ 2-3 cups milk (2% - I've also used almond milk)
Big pinch of cayenne pepper a little less than 1/4 t
Fresh ground black pepper
First, take the reserved pumpkin seeds and toast them until fragrant in a 300 degree oven. Remove, toss in a small bowl with a bit of salt. Set aside.
For the puree, heat up 2 T olive oil in a large saute pan. Toss 3 cups of the diced pumpkin in the oil to coat, and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and fresh pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, allowing the pumpkin to caramelize, stirring every so often. When the pumpkin is just al dente, pour in enough milk to cover. Allow the pumpkin to simmer until tender throughout, about ten minutes. Transfer all to a food processor and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and reserve. (I added in about 1/4 carrot juice for a bit of color, but it's not necessary!)
For the saute, heat another 2 T of olive oil over medium high heat. Toss in the remaining 2 cups of pumpkin, sauteeing until golden and caramelized on all sides. Allow to cook through and transfer to a bowl. Toss with walnut oil, red wine vinegar, 1/2 c toasted pumpkin seeds, and a pinch of cayenne. Season with salt and pepper to taste and reserve.