Pork Chops with Butternut Squash Noodles and Guajillo Sauce

The guajillo sauce can be made ahead of time, as it’s a lovely condiment all on its own. The squash noodles go great with any protein of your choosing (though we’re big fans of pork chops or chicken cutlets). Don’t feel like butternut squash noodles? Give this a shot with sweet potatoes or zucchini or any other vegetable noodles. If you would rather serve the noodles and sauce as a side dish, see the variation that follows.

SERVES 3 TO 4 / PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES / TOTAL TIME: 45 MINUTES

FOR THE GUAJILLO SAUCE

4 dried guajillo chile peppers (see Notes)

1 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon fat (coconut oil, lard, or ghee)

½ onion, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1½ cups full-fat coconut milk or heavy cream

1 to 2 teaspoons adobo sauce from canned chipotles (optional)

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon ground cumin

FOR THE PORK AND NOODLES

1 pound boneless or bone-in pork chops, about 1 inch thick

½ teaspoon chipotle powder

Salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons fat (coconut oil, lard, or ghee)

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and spiralized into noodles

1. Make the sauce: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the guajillos, toasting them until just fragrant but not burned. Remove them from the skillet and tear into small pieces, discarding the stems and seeds. Transfer to a small heatproof bowl and cover with the boiling water. Allow to soak for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, add the fat to the skillet and once hot, add the onion and sauté until just translucent.

3. Stir in the tomato paste, coconut milk, adobo sauce (if using), oregano, and cumin. Add the soaked and drained guajillos, and mix well to combine. Bring just to a boil to allow flavors to infuse into the coconut milk.

4. Pour all the contents of the skillet into a blender and puree until smooth (see Notes). Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve, then return to the stove in the skillet. Simmer for 5 minutes to heat through.

5. Make the pork chops and noodles: Preheat the oven to 375°F.

6. Pat the pork chops dry and season with the chipotle powder, and salt and black pepper to taste.

7. Heat a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the fat. Add the pork chops to the skillet and cook until a nice browned exterior has formed, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

8. Remove the pork chops to a plate. Place the pork chops on top and place the pan in the oven. Bake until the pork chops are cooked through and the noodles have reached your desired doneness, about 10 minutes.

VARIATION: If you would prefer this as a meat-free side dish, make the guajillo sauce as directed. Then heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of fat. Once hot, add the noodles, stirring to combine well. Sauté until the noodles reach your desired doneness, 5 to 10 minutes (we like them a bit on the still crunchy side). Pour the sauce over the noodles and stir all to combine well.

NOTES: Guajillos are pretty mild. If you can’t find them, use New Mexico or California chiles.
Always use caution blending hot ingredients in a blender as the heat can cause the liquid to splatter all over your kitchen. We suggest placing a kitchen towel over the top of the blender and using firm pressure to press down on the lid when you start blending.

HOW TO MAKE VEGETABLE NOODLES

Vegetable noodles as a substitute for pasta are a bit of a staple in Paleo and gluten-free families. Plus, the actual act of “spiralizing” is a great way to get the kids involved. We highly recommend a spiralizer gadget, but there is one to meet everyone’s budget and storage space requirements. Check the specific instructions for your spiralizer for setup and use, but general spiralizer instructions follow below. You can spiralize apples, potatoes, squash (summer and some winter), celery root, carrots, parsnips, jicama, beets, daikon, and much more!

1. Place a bowl under the end of the spiralizer to catch the noodles.

2. Cut off the stem-root ends of the vegetable, trimming and/or peeling as needed.

3. Firmly secure the vegetable to the prongs and center hold of the spiralizer, making sure it is centered.

4. Using gentle pressure, turn the crank to create the spiralized noodles.