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Dutch Oven Ham with Apples and Winter Squash

As much as I love the bounty and freshness of the summer harvest, as we transition into autumn season meals, I love the richness and higher prevalence of umami flavor in fall meals. Have you heard of umami? Described by the Japanese word, it has been discovered as the fifth primary taste, right along with salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. Umami flavor is attributed to the amino acid glutamate, present in meats, mushrooms, parmesan and other rich cheeses, red wine, soy sauce, and vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes and carrots. Umami is a subtle, savory flavor and can be described as  “profoundly tasty food that saturates your taste-buds with deliciousness.” So, bring on the rich deliciousness of fall meals by amping up the umami!

The one-pot meal that I’m featuring today is another quick and easy one to prepare, that cooks up in one pot, and after that, takes about 45 minutes in the oven. Another recipe that is really versatile as well, allowing you to throw in all of your fall favorites.

To start, I prepped:

1 onion (red/white/yellow, and/or leeks, and/or shallots, and garlic)

5 small apples (quartered) that we got from Bishop’s Orchard in Garfield, WA

5 carrots, sliced pretty large

1-2 delicata squash, sliced (Omache farm has a ton of these this year -we’ve gotten so many in our CSA! and I love that you can eat the skin of this delicate winter squash)

*other additions could be potatoes (whole if small), dried red peppers, dried cranberries/other fruit, dried mushrooms (for extra umami!), celery, celery root, parsnips… whatever you’ve got from your favorite local producer

These all go into the bottom of an oven safe dutch oven, baking dish, or even crock pot with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper

Similar to the pork chops we made a couple weeks ago, your delicious, local ham can sit right on top of all of it, then cover and bake for about 45 minutes (warming the chill out of the fall evening air) and then enjoy your hearty, one-pot meal with your favorite people.

Depending on what style of meal you are into, this might even be a good candidate for a Thanksgiving dish! The ham can also be used for yummy ham sandwiches or wraps for lunch the next day – yay!

Do you also love easy, one-pot meals in the oven? What are your favorite fall flavors? Do you have thoughts on the umami-MSG link? Please share in the comments!

Always with gratitude- especially to Shane McFarland for helping to clean up the messes I make!

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