Cider, apples, yams, and pork chops. What could better express Autumn in the form of a meal? With a daily collection of apple drops from our trees in the orchard we have been having them in many ways each day: homemade cider, spicy apple butter on crispy warm toast, and tangy applesauce as an accompaniment to most anything, but tonight they made their appearance for the first time in a main meal, and what a successful debut this was! One would hardly expect something so simple to be so successful in pleasing so many.
The yams and apples were simply quartered and roasted on a sheet pan while the chops were seared and simmered in cider — which was reduced to a surprisingly flavorful sauce, tying everything into a perfect expression of the Fall season.
Cider-Glazed Pork Chops with Roasted Yams and Apples
- Preheat oven to 450º Fahrenheit. Mix yams, apples, rosemary, 2 tablespoons oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Spread yam mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are browned and tender, about 25 minutes, turning halfway through baking time.
- Season pork with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add pork, and cook until golden brown and center is barely pink, about 5 minutes per side. Place 1 chop each on 4 individual dinner plates, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings in skillet.
- Reduce heat to medium, and add cider. Bring to a simmer, stirring to loosen browned bits from skillet. Whisk in mustard, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter until melted and incorporated. Sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper. Drizzle sauce over chops. Divide yam mixture among plates, and serve immediately.
Every Saturday we gather as a community to work for the morning, caring for the Community buildings and grounds — cleaning the church, cooking in the kitchen, mowing, raking, working on various building and maintenance projects. It’s a good time of fellowship and work. These past two Saturdays we had all-day affairs which we called Oktoberfest — winterizing gardens, pruning, transplanting, and harvesting the last of the vegetables and fruit. The first Saturday was a classic Autumn day, just the way I like it — a little cool, but sun-shiny — that special sparkle that comes in October with the change in the angle of the sun. We all came together to eat lunch and dinner in our refectory. I planned the meals to reflect Oktoberfest traditions; roast pork with apple and onions, German potato salad, braised red cabbage, but I also wanted to include something not so traditional — butternut squash soup, which speaks more to me about autumn than anything else. We made the soup in the big tilting skillet since it was for 250 — using many pounds of squash, onions, and apples and I must say it was delicious! I’ve reduced it down here so that you can enjoy it, too.
Butternut Squash Soup
- Melt butter in a large stock pot, add onions and thyme, and sauté until onions are tender. Stir occasionally.
- Add squash, apples, and stock to pot.
- Cook over low heat until squash and apples are very tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth, adding apple cider, and enough stock to make the soup slightly thick.
- Pour soup back into pot, reheat, and add salt and pepper to taste.