Slow Cooker Pork & Butternut Squash Stew; Paris restaurants

I was initially skeptical of doing potatoes and winter squashes in the slow cooker.

I was concerned that either the meat would not be as tender as I wanted or the vegetables would be mush.

I now know…. size matters.

For this stew I cut the potatoes, which were just slightly bigger than my fist, in quarters the long way, then cut the quarters in half. They were done but just barely. They should have been cut slightly smaller.

The butternut squash was in chunks a bit smaller than the potatoes. They were verging on overdone. I will leave them larger the next time.

Still – it’s stew. It’s not supposed to look perfect on a plate.

Most importantly…. it was good, with just the right hint of spices.

Slow Cooker Pork & Butternut Squash Stew

Total time: 7 hours 30 minutes


  • 2 boneless pork chops, 12oz (360gr) total weight, cut into pieces
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 8oz (240gr) butternut squash, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tbs tapioca
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp za’atar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 cup (8oz, 240ml) chicken stock

Slow Cooker Pork and Butternut Squash Stew


  • Add food to the slow cooker as follows: onion wedges, celery, garlic, pork, tapioca, all herbs and spices.
  • Top with potatoes, then butternut squash
  • Mix mustard and chicken stock. Pour over the top.
  • Cover, cook, low setting, for 7 hours.
  • If possible, stir about half-way through cooking time.
  • If not – stir about 10 – 15 minutes before serving.
  • Serve.

Print Recipe

Now – about foods looking perfect on a plate….

There are many, many restaurants of all shapes, sizes and cuisines in Paris – which actually makes it somewhat more challenging to choose.

Here are the three we went to and my opinions:

First – our favorite: L’Initial

The cuisine is French, the chef Japanese, and our dinner was fantastic. It’s a restaurant with individual tables as opposed to a bistro with banquettes along the wall and close seating.
They offer a set menu of multiple courses with each course ranging from a few bites to something slightly more substantial. We enjoyed every course, ate every bite and left the restaurant without feeling like we had over-indulged.

We had:

3 small ‘bites’ to go with our apero (glass of Champagne)
White Fish with White Beans
Scallop Mousse with Smoked Salmon
Foie Gras
Fish on a bed of Spinach
Medallions of Lamb with Ginger Sauce, Vegetables
Apple Sorbet
Mint Ice Cream
Coffee and Chocolates

Of course there was wine….. Every bite was wonderful.

Second – La Bourse et La Vie 

This restaurant was recommended by a lot of American sites / reviewers. It was easy to see why.
The cuisine is French and the chef American. He also has a well-known restaurant in Chicago. This is a bistro with typical bistro seating albeit slightly roomier. The food was very good but the portions were, dare I say it…. American size.


Way too much.

We also had a menu here, but only 3 courses,

My foie gras was wonderful, as was the slow-cooked lamb shank but I didn’t come close to eating it all. The dessert was good, but I was too full to enjoy it.
Mon mari was disappointed in the oysters – mainly because he got 3 oysters on a plate and was expecting at least 6 on the half shell. His steak was very good but even he couldn’t finish it. It looked like it should be for 2.
If you have a hearty appetite this is your restaurant.

Third – A la Biche au Bois.  They don’t have a website. They’ve been around forever and we’ve been several times. Classic French bistro – people packed in, service friendly and efficient, and the food seasonal French. It’s winter so game was on the menu

We both had the pheasant. This time it was a 4 course menu but the portions were smaller, more, dare I say it, European in size, meaning one is expected to eat an entree, main course, cheese and dessert and enjoy it all ….. Which we did.
It was also about half the price of the first 2.

It may have rained during the day but we were happy and well-fed at night.

Last update on December 27, 2017

4 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Pork & Butternut Squash Stew; Paris restaurants”

  1. At home here even the European size is getting large for us but I do totally understand the difference and the difference is enjoying all the food. Your pork chops look pretty perfect on your plate here.

    • Tanna, here it’s assumed one will have cheese and / or dessert…. rather than the American ‘Did you save any room for dessert?’ question. And there is much less waste (also no one takes food home – that would be rude)

  2. …”cheese and dessert”… This thing has been bugging me. Would you consider a post on desserts and their place in France? I mean, are they at the end and does cheese come before dessert? Or neither, or both, or optional for either?

    I used to think that cheese came at the end of a meal on the Continent, and have reason to think so, having lived there so long and seen it, but then I read that that is a British concoction. Ma femme who is half-English thinks dessert should be sweet, and I think it should be cheese though I have no Brit in me. So am I pip-pip cheerio incorrect? Or (I hope) is she wrong?

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