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Pan-seared pork chops with roasted avocado, broccoli and sherry vinaigrette

January 21, 2014 - 8:59am

The next time you’re looking to fill that carb/starch slot on the plate, try roasted avocado instead. It’s creamy and a little different.

This recipe calls for something you can find all too easily in the produce department: a firm avocado. The complete meal takes less than an hour to prepare, start to finish.

From Nick Palermo, executive chef at the Old Angler’s Inn in Potomac, Md.

Pan-seared pork chops with roasted avocado, broccoli and sherry vinaigrette

Servings: 4 or 5

Kosher salt

2 cups broccoli florets

4 or 5 thick-cut boneless or bone-in pork chops (6 to 8 ounces each)

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Flesh of 2 or 2 1/2 firm Hass avocados, cut lengthwise into quarters

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the avocados

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons minced shallot

Fill a mixing bowl with ice water.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the broccoli florets. Blanch for no more than 3 minutes, then drain and transfer to the ice-water bath to stop the cooking. Cool, then drain and dry thoroughly.

Season the pork chops lightly with salt and pepper.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the pork chops; sear until golden brown in spots, 4 to 6 minutes for each side. The chops will be medium-rare; transfer to the oven for further cooking, if desired. The internal temperature of the meat should be no higher than 145 degrees; let the chops rest for at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, season the avocado quarters lightly with salt and pepper, then drizzle sparingly with olive oil and rub to coat. Arrange them cut side up on the baking sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes; the edges will be lightly browned.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the extra-virgin olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the garlic; cook for 30 seconds, then add the blanched broccoli florets and stir to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper; cook just until warmed through, then remove from the heat.

Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, the vinegar and shallot in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk to form an emulsified vinaigrette.

Place a chop at the center of each plate, then arrange the broccoli and 2 roasted avocado quarters alongside. Drizzle all components with the vinaigrette. Serve warm.

Nutrition information per serving (based on 5, using 5 chops): 460 calories, 41 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 28 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 380 mg sodium, 7 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar

Chilean-style avocado salad

Serves: 4 or 5

Serve this bright, pretty, crunchy salad as a first course or side dish.

Make ahead: The salad components can be prepped and refrigerated several hours in advance. Dress the salad just before serving.

From Nick Palermo.

Kosher salt

1 pound asparagus (woody ends trimmed off), peeled

Flesh of 2 ripe avocados, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 cup canned hearts of palm (about 7 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces (may substitute fresh hearts of palm; see note)

2 medium ribs celery, cut into small dice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Fill a mixing bowl with ice water.

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the asparagus. Blanch for no more than 2 minutes, then drain and transfer to the ice-water bath to stop the cooking. Cool, then drain and dry thoroughly. The asparagus should be tender but not mushy or crunchy. Cut each asparagus spear crosswise in half; cut only the trimmed-end halves crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.

Combine the 1/2-inch asparagus pieces, avocados, hearts of palm and celery in a mixing bowl. Drizzle the oil and lemon juice over the mixture, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss gently to incorporate.

Arrange 3 or 4 asparagus-spear halves at the center of each plate. Divide the dressed salad mixture on top.

Note: If you use fresh hearts of palm, chef Palermo recommends blanching the cut pieces in salted, acidulated water for a minute or two, then draining and drying them thoroughly before using.

Nutrition information per serving (based on 5): 200 calories, 4 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 8 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar

Turkey Cassoulet

4 or 5 servings

Don’t let the title intimidate you; this is not project cooking a la Julia Child. Butter used in sparing amounts enriches the dish while keeping things comparatively low-fat. Using home-cooked cannellini beans increases the cassoulet’s creaminess quotient.

A homemade turkey broth is preferable to boost the turkey flavor in this dish, but a good store-bought brand may be used instead. See the NOTE, below.

Bake in individual gratin dishes or in a pan that can move from the stove top to the oven.

From Nick Palermo.


2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, preferably European (with a higher butterfat content)

6 to 8 ounces slab bacon, preferably applewood-smoked (may substitute thick-cut pieces of turkey bacon or a flavorful turkey sausage, casings removed), cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey thighs (fat trimmed off), cut into bite-size chunks

1/4 cup diced yellow onion or white onion

2 tablespoons diced carrot (carrot first well scrubbed)

2 tablespoons diced celery

2 tablespoons minced garlic

14 or 15 ounces canned, crushed no-salt-added tomatoes (optional)

15 ounces (about 2 cups) canned low-sodium cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 cup homemade or low-sodium turkey broth (see NOTE)

1/2 cup plain panko bread crumbs

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large stove-top casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon (to taste) and stir to coat. Cook until the bacon starts to crisp and brown on the edges and its fat has rendered, then add the turkey and stir to coat, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook just until it loses its raw look, then add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, stirring to coat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables are softened and fragrant. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, if using.

Add the beans, stirring to incorporate. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then stir in the parsley and the remaining 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter (to taste). Once the butter has been completely incorporated, stir in the broth. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. The mixture should look like a thin stew at this point.

Cover and transfer to the oven, or divide among 4 or 5 individual gratin dishes; bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the turkey is quite tender. (Baking may take less time in the small gratin dishes.) The mixture should be thickened.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Sprinkle the surface of the cassoulet with the panko and cheese. Return to the oven, uncovered, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Serve hot.

NOTE: To make 4 cups of turkey broth, roast 3 turkey necks, 1 medium onion, 1 medium carrot and 1 rib of celery on an aluminum-foil-lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Transfer to a pot over medium-high heat; make a space at the center to add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute before stirring to coat the vegetables. Cover with 4 cups of water and bring just to a boil, skimming off any foam or scum that rises to the surface, then reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Strain out the solids.

Nutrition Per serving (based on 5): 360 calories, 37 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 135 mg cholesterol, 520 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar


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