The 5th season is my favorite.
We gave summer one last sun-and-ocean-filled hurrah this weekend. While it may be hard to feel inspired after a long weekend that marks the end of an always-too-short summer, we all should get excited about today. Today marks the beginning of one of the best seasons that gets overlooked all too often. Michigan has very pronounced, if not dramatic, seasons. Winter can be brutal. Harsh and cold to the point where the muddy, unpredictable springs feel better than they actually are. Spring days at least provide reassurance that life goes on and summer is coming.
Summer in Michigan is priceless. The 3 short months are what keep most of us here the other 9. But it is this time of year that is truly magical. Harvest: the 5th and most flavorful season. That awe-inspiring time from the Tuesday after Labor Day until the time trees change colors and leaves begin to fall. Harvest season is literally the earth and it’s plants giving their very last ounce of energy for us to take and enjoy…. and make into beautiful, delicious things. Tonight was our first tango with this mouth-watering season, and it did not disappoint. First day of harvest and we are batting a thousand.
Despite the 90 degree weather – and an impending storm that has left that air humid, hot and dead – this meal is worth cooking. If we can cook in our tiny little cottage kitchen without air-conditioning, you can broil these pork chops for all of 8 minutes. It will be worth it. You will quickly forget any unpleasantries once you take a bite of these basil butter pork chops and vegetables. Happy harvest everyone!
Basil Butter Pork Chops and Harvest Vegetables
We are so fortunate to live in a place where we can be close to our food. We are members of a local farm, Our Asparagus Patch, where we pick up our share of amazing goodies every Tuesday just a mile down the road. They focus on heirloom varieties which means we are constantly surprised by new [old] flavor-rich goodness. Everything from tonight, with the exception of oil and butter and the herbs from our deck, was from the local garden and our local meat market, Jerome Country Market. Just wonderful.
- Two fresh pork chops, un-trimmed
- 1 stick of butter, softened
- 3/4 stick of butter for potatoes
- Handful of Basil Leaves
- 1 Large Shallot
- 1 Large, meaty tomato (we have all these interesting heirloom varieties that I don’t begin to know the names of, but they come in rich colors ranging from green/purple to pink/orange, and are so lovely de-seaded and cooked)
- Mix of Patty Pan Squash, Zucchini and Summer Squash (P.S. if you haven’t had patty pan squash: go find it and eat it! Best summer squash I’ve ever had)
- 1 head of garlic, pealed and chopped
- Redskin potatoes for mashing
Finely chop the shallot and basil. Press ~2 tablespoons of minced shallots and all the basil into 1 stick of salted, soft butter. Rough chop squashes, zucchini, and tomato, spread on a cookie sheet and toss with olive oil and a few tablespoons of basil butter. Sprinkle cookie sheet with chopped garlic cloves and remaining shallots. Salt and pepper to taste. Broil under high-heat, about 5 inches from flame, for about 12 minutes; turning every few minutes until slightly browned. Remove and toss with 1-2 tablespoons of basil butter. Pile together, cover with foil until pork chops are ready.
Spread remaining basil butter liberally on salted-and-peppered pork chops. Place on a cookie sheet and broil for 8 minutes, or an internal temperature of 155 degrees. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
Mash potatoes in stand mixer with 1/2 – 3/4 stick of butter. The secret to great mashed potatoes is fresh potatoes, leaving the skins on, and mashing with only the butter first. The butter coats the potatoes, leaving pea-sized lumps but without getting sticky or gluey. I typically pulse to high in the stand mixer for no more than 5 seconds at a time. Add milk, salt and garlic powder to taste. Pulsing the mixer or using a fork to turn.
Plate potatoes, veggies and pork. Enjoy the sight of that beautiful golden butter caramelizing the side of a perfectly moist pork chop with white wine, while thinking about all the wonderful harvest bounty to come.
Kate & Adam