Bring out the beets.
The weather finally dipped below 80, so it's finally cool enough to fire up the oven and one of my favorite cool weather vegetables.
Diana Henry, the TV producer-turned-cookbook author in England, has a new book out, "From the Oven to the Table" (Mitchell Beazley, $29.99), that is perfect for these kinds of vegetable-heavy, oven-friendly dishes.
Henry, who writes a weekly column for the Sunday Telegraph and is one of the most recognized voices in food in the UK, compiled dozens of recipes that are easy to bake and serve, usually in the same dishware. Sometimes, the instructions include a little searing in a skillet, as with these pork chops, but many of them are dinners that you can cook in one pan, casserole dish or sheet tray.
She makes a compelling case for pairing beets and apples with caraway seeks and paprika — with a finish of sour cream — in this recipe, but if you're not a fan of beets, replace them with another fall vegetable, such as squash or carrots. If beets aren't your thing, you certainly aren't alone, but if it's because they are hard to peel, consider picking up the cooked, packaged beets they sell in the produce section of grocery stores nowadays. They are perfect for a recipe like this that calls for pre-cooked beets. If you're cooking them yourself, it's a good excuse to use an Instant Pot, or you can simply roast them in an aluminum foil packet, which makes them easier to peel after they soften.
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Pork Chops with Beets, Apples, Caraway and Paprika
This is inspired by the flavors of Germany and Eastern Europe; it’s a mixture of tastes and ingredients I love. Sour cream might seem a tad overindulgent (good chops have fat on them, so there’s plenty of fat action going on), but even a small amount makes this dish sing, as it cuts the sweetness of the beets and apples.
— Diana Henry
For the pork:
4 garlic cloves, finely grated
Sea salt flakes
4 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 thick pork chops, on the bone (about 1/2 pound each)
For the vegetables:
1 pound cooked beets, peeled and quartered
2 medium-sized tart apples, halved, cored and each cut into 12 wedges
2 onions, halved and sliced about 1/2-inch thick
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons soft light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped dill (any thick stalks discarded)
Put the garlic into a mortar with the salt and caraway seeds and pound with the pestle. Add the olive oil, working it in until you have a rough paste. Put the pork chops in a bowl and add the mixture from the mortar, turning the chops over in it. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for a while (at least 1 hour if possible, though longer is fine).
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Put everything for the vegetables into a gratin dish or a roasting pan in which the beets and apples can lie in a single layer. Toss around with your hands and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
Heat a frying or grill pan over high heat until very hot. Add the chops and color them on both sides, as well as on the fat (hold the chops on their sides, gripping them with tongs, so you can color the fat). Season with pepper an a little more salt.
Put the chops on top of the vegetables and pour over the cooking juices from the frying pan. Bake for a final 20 minutes; the meat should be cooked through but still tender.
Transfer to a warmed serving dish, or serve in the dish in which it was cooked. Spoon some sour cream scattered with dill over the vegetables, or just serve it on the side. Serves 4.
— From "From the Oven to the Table" by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, $29.99)