Spiced Pork and Butternut Squash with Sage is the perfect meal for a chilly day, not only because it’s hearty and comforting but also because the blend of autumnal spices warms the belly.
Nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and ginger aren’t just for pumpkin pie. This blend of spices also makes a delicious spice rub for pork. Pumpkin (or squash) doesn’t have to be left out entirely. In this recipe, butternut squash is roasted to crispy perfection and served alongside the braised pork with a garnish of brown butter and sage.
You can mix the spices together yourself, or to save time just use Pumpkin Pie spice blend from the store. Once seasoned, the pork simmers in broth for a half hour or so until tender. That same broth is mixed with coconut milk and quickly reduced into a savory sauce.
The squash is roasted separately so the edges become crisp and caramelized, a texture that’s a nice contrast to the tender meat. The final step – browning butter with minced sage – should not be skipped. You’ll be amazed by how the rich, nutty flavor of this simple garnish takes the dish to a whole new level.
1/2 teaspoon allspice (2.5 ml)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (1.25 ml)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (1.25 ml)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (1.25 ml)
1/2 teaspoon salt (2.5 ml)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (1.25 ml)
2-3 pounds of boneless country style pork ribs or pork shoulder cut into 1-inch chunks (900-1350 g)
1 butternut squash or pumpkin, weighing about 3 pounds (1350 g)
6 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil (90 ml)
1 teaspoon cumin (5 ml)
1 cup chicken or beef broth (250 ml)
1/4 cup coconut milk, or more to taste (60 ml)
2 tablespoons butter (30 g)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage (15 ml)
Preheat the oven to 375 °F (190 °C).
In a small bowl mix together the allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the meat then rub it in. Set the meat aside.
Peel the squash or pumpkin.
To peel and cut a butternut squash or pumpkin: Cut the top stem off. Cut a little bit off the bottom too, so it sits flat on a cutting board. Using a sturdy vegetable peeler, peel off the skin. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds/stringy parts with a spoon. Cut the halves into slices then into chunks of the same size, about 1-inch square.
Spread the cut pieces out in a large rimmed baking pan and coat with half of the coconut oil/olive oil and sprinkle with the cumin and a little bit of salt.
Roast for at least 45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the pieces are lightly browned and soft. Depending on the size of the pieces and how soft and browned you want them to be, you might keep them in the oven for an hour or slightly more. Put the cooked squash in a large serving dish.
While the squash/pumpkin is roasting, heat a pot over medium-high on the stove then add the remaining oil. Let the oil heat for a minute then add the pork.
Cook for 5 minutes without turning the pork pieces so they brown, then stir the pieces and cook 3 minutes more.
Add the broth and bring to a boil. There should be just enough liquid to cover the meat, if not, add a little water. Turn the heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The meat should be tender when it’s done.
Remove the lid and add the coconut milk. Raise the heat to high so the liquid boils and reduces a bit. After 5 minutes, turn the heat off and pour the pork and sauce over the roasted squash.
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the sage. Fry the sage for 3-4 minutes, until it’s slightly crisp and the butter is browned.