Balsamic Grilled Pork Chops, Scalloped Butternut Squash, I Heart Cooking Clubs and Ruth

I am branching out and joining up with I Heart Cooking Clubs.    I have admired this club from afar for many years but am finally jumping in.  Why?  Because the feature cookbook author for the next six months is Ruth Reichl.  (Love her!)

I have all of her books, books she authored and books she edited.  Well, I have them all but save one, A Feastiary, her first cookbook, published when she lived the communal life in Berkeley in the early 70s.  If you ever see a copy in a used book store, please contact me so I can go snatch it up.

My two favorite go-to cookbooks are these:

They are both massive and full of any possible recipe you could ever want.  (Truth be told, I probably don’t utilize them enough.)  So, again, I am so happy that IHCC is celebrating all things Reichl.   I also still have a stack of Gourmet magazines around, too.


The club’s theme this week is to make an elegant Ruth Reichl dish from the pantry or a Ruth Reichl recipe that features a gourmet pantry ingredient.

I was on the hunt.  I went to the lime green cookbook first and found a recipe for Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops.  Since it is still nice outside, we wanted to grill so I adapted the recipe a bit.  My pantry items are shallots and balsamic.

Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops

From Gourmet Today (p 468).  Also published in Gourmet, March 2006.  Slightly adapted for grilling.

“Here is an astonishing little recipe that shows what a power ingredient like balsmaic vinegar can do. Caramelized shallots and the dark vinegar glaze give these chops intriguing sweet, sour, dark, and syrupy notes.”


  • 2 (3/4-inch-thick) center-cut pork chops
  • 1/2 t. salt, divided
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 t. sugar


  1. Pat pork dry and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat (350 F)  and lightly oil the grate.
  3. Cook the pork chops on the preheated grill until no longer pink in the center, 5 to 6 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 145 degrees F.
  4. While pork chops grill, heat oil in small skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, add shallots, stirring occasionally until golden brown and tender, about 5 minutes total.
  5. Add balsamic, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to shallots in skillet. Cook, stirring until sugar is dissolved and liquid is thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.  Keep warm.
  6. Remove pork chops from grill and place on a warmed serving platter.  Tent with foil. Let rest for five minutes.
  7. Pour sauce over pork and serve.

Yield: 2

The sauce looks burnt but it isn’t. Let me tell you, though, it is DELICIOUS! The scalloped butternut is a perfect side as was a late fall tomato from the garden.

Since the holidays are fast approaching and I had butternut squash from our garden in the pantry, I decided on this recipe in the December 2003 edition of Gourmet.  Certainly the recipe is “gourmet” enough for this week’s theme.

Scalloped Butternut Squash

From Gourmet, December 2003

“This recipe is based on a delicious dish made by Laura DaMiano, a Quebecois chef. She loves the flavor of butternut squash paired with Oka cheese, a mild, semisoft cow’s-milk cheese. Mild cheddar can be used as a substitute.”


  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. rounded, black pepper
  • 3 lb. butternut squash
  • 4 oz. mild cheddar, grated
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 (3-inch) fresh thyme sprigs


  1. Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9- by 9-inch glass baking dish.
  2. Stir together salt and pepper in a small bowl. Cut off necks of squash, reserving bottoms for another use (you will have about 1 1/2 pounds necks). Peel squash and very thinly slice crosswise with slicer.
  3. Layer one third of squash slices, overlapping, in baking dish and sprinkle with some of salt and pepper mixture. Sprinkle with half of cheese, then layer half of remaining squash slices on top and sprinkle with some of salt and pepper mixture. Top with remaining cheese and remaining squash slices, then sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper.
  4. Bring cream and thyme sprigs to a simmer in a small saucepan over moderate heat. Discard thyme and pour cream evenly over squash. Put a sheet of parchment paper on surface of squash and poke a few holes in parchment with a knife. Bake squash until tender, about 45 minutes.
  5. Discard parchment and let squash stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, cut rounds from squash with cookie cutter and transfer to plates with a spatula.

Cooks’ notes:
Squash can be baked (but not cut into rounds) 2 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled, covered. If cutting rounds, cut them out while gratin is cold, then transfer to a buttered baking sheet and reheat in lower third of a preheated 350°F oven 15 minutes. If leaving gratin whole, reheat in middle of a 350°F oven 25 minutes.

Yield: 4

Photo from Gourmet, December 2003 (p 161)

The original recipe served eight so I halved the ingredients.   If you are hosting a larger crew, this side recipe was part of an entire “Winterlight” repast, a French Canadian réveillon, that was featured on a ten-page spread in Gourmet, December 2003.  The menu follows:

Miniature Tourtières with Spicy Tomato Cranberry Preserves

Laurent-Perrier Brute Rosé

Oyster Soup with Frizzled Leeks

Glazed Chestnuts and Haricots Verts

Herb-Braised Ham

Scalloped Butternut Squash

Buckwheat Crêpe Noodles with Chive Butter

Vicent Girardin Les Murgers des Dents de Chiens St.-Aubin Premier Cru ’01

Maple Walnut Bûche de Noël

Lady Apples in Apple Ice Wine Gelée

Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Niagara Peninsula Riesling Ice Wine ’00

That’s quite the elegant meal and I may duplicate portions of this menu for an upcoming holiday feast.  So as not to waste a single sliver of this butternut goodness, I did not cut my servings into rounds.  Instead I just cut squares to serve along side the Balsamic Grilled Pork Chops.

Both of these dishes are repeat worthy.   Especially for the holidays.  I know that the butternut squash recipe will show up on a Thanksgiving or Christmas table.


Aside:  As I perused through the 2003 magazine, I was struck by a couple of things.   The advertising was dominant.  In fact, it was hard at times to pick out the articles from the multi-page ads.   Also, the ads were mostly for over-the-top luxury brands—Rolex, Tiffany & Co., Bailey Banks & Biddle, Cartier, the Ritz Carton.  I do remember (back in the day) how ritzy I found Gourmet and that I longed for a set of Mikimoto pearls that seemed to be advertised every month.  I was young and impressionable.

Were the ads just duplicated from one Condé Nast publication to another because these ads seemed more at home in Traveler, Vogue, or House & Garden?  Do you think the perceived demographics of the magazine might have had something to do with its demise?   Just wondering….


IHCC’s theme for next week is Potluck! Make any Ruth Reichl dish OR make any dish from any of the other IHCC chefs—your choice.  The list is long and impressive:

  • Eric Ripert
  • Ina Garten
  • Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
  • Heidi Swanson
  • Curtis Stone
  • Ellie Krieger
  • Jacques Pépin
  • Diana Henry
  • Nigel Slater
  • Donna Hay
  • Yotam Ottolenghi
  • Madhur Jaffrey
  • Rick Bayless
  • Tessa Kiros
  • Jamie Oliver
  • Giada De Laurentiis
  • Mark Bittman
  • Nigella Lawson
Come along and join this newbie.  I’m so glad I finally found the time and motivation to join IHCC!  Looking forward to the weeks and months that follow! I vow to do a recipe every week.

For all my Ruth Reichl posts, click here.

9 comments to Balsamic Grilled Pork Chops, Scalloped Butternut Squash, I Heart Cooking Clubs and Ruth

  • This is a feast, Deb. I have used balsamic to make chicken, but haven’t tried it with pork yet. And that scalloped squash is such a genius idea.

  • I love Ruth Reichl too, I have read so many of her books. What a fun challenge and great recipes too, especially the scalloped butternut squash, drool.

  • I love Ruth Reichl as well. I have read many of her books. I had a Gourmet subscription also but sadly I did not keep the magazines. I do have a couple best of cookbooks. Look forward to cooking with you at IHCC.

  • I finally got rid of almost 30 years worth of _Gourmet_ some years ago when we moved. Broke my heart in a way, but I rarely looked at them. The cookbook is much easier (the yellow once, which I have; don’t have the other). Anyway, love the idea of this squash — really tasty stuff. Thanks.

  • I picked up a great Reichl book from the library and circumstances prevented me from really digging in. I was hooked on I Heart Cooking Club when Nigella Lawson was the featured chef. There have been some great recipes posted there.

  • mae

    Your recipe choices are wonderful — I have had the yellow tome for years, but never tried any of the recipes. I really enjoyed Reichl’s series of memoirs. It’s sad that she didn’t find a way to make Gourmet more appealing to more modern cooks and readers, so the owners gave her the axe! I kind of agreed with popular opinion that Gourmet was just too upscale. As you say — all those classy ads for things most people can’t afford (and one wonders if those who could afford them actually spent much of their time cooking).

    best… mae at

  • Your whole dinner looks delicious and I am very happy to have you join in with us at IHCC! 😉

  • To be able to use the variety of Gourmet’s recipes is a blast. I’m diving into them. Glad you’re cooking Ruth Reich’s recipes along with us. Love the pork chop and squash combination.

  • I have to admit I wouldn’t have thought of scalloped butternut squash but I love the look of yours. The stacks are so elegant looking. And balsamic glazed pork chops? Who wouldn’t love them?