A Rustic French Pork and Prunes Recipe
If there is a favorite of the cuisines of the world that I have tried and cooked so far, I would have to choose French. France has a deserved reputation for haute cuisine, but its provincial cooking merits no less praise, with simple everyday cooking producing vibrant and delicious recipes. Northern cooking uses lots of heavy butter and cream (or well, it used to, it has probably changed to use less of it if American cooking is anything to go by), while Southern France cooking loves olive oil and vegetables and tomatoes; this very diversity of French cuisine makes it an eternal fascination.
In this case, this dish is composed of pork, which is sautéd and then combined with a wine—omnipresent in French cuisine—chicken stock, and a cream-based combination, to produce a delightfully savory yet also sweet dish, which tastes like the fruitiness of summer regardless of the season. For those worried, I haven't had any adverse effects from the prunes.
This particular dish comes from Touraine in France, which has many orchards, and is adapted from a recipe within The Little French Cookbook by Murdoch Books.
I heavily recommend serving this dish over rice. The advantage is that the sauce will be spread into the rice, and in my opinion, white rice makes an excellent canvas for the sauce's brush. It has the sweetness of fruit with some sort of hauntingly savory aftertaste, rich and creamy and yet not decadent, which caresses the tongue long after it's been eaten.
- 2 pounds pork
- ~20 prunes
- 2/3 cup / 6 fluid ounces/150 mL white wine
- ~1 cup / 10 fluid ounces / 280 mL chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cups / 7 fluid ounces / 180 mL heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- Bay leaf
- 2 onions, peeled and chopped
- Place the prunes into a small saucepan, and cover with water. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and let simmer 5 minutes. At the end, drain thoroughly and preserve.
- Cut up the meat into desired size. I would recommend 1-inch to 2-inch cubes, as this would provide for the greatest capacity for the meat to absorb the sauce, but noisettes or larger sizes work as well.
- Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter into a wide skillet, and heat until the butter starts to foam. Add the meat, and cook it until it is brown on both sides, flipping it as necessary. This probably will have to be done in multiple batches. Remove from heat and place onto a plate at the end.
- Drain off some of the excess fat, then place in 1 tablespoon of butter, melt, and add the chopped onions. Cook until the onions are soft, but not yet browned, over low heat. Following this add in the wine, bring to a boil, and simmer 2 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaf, stock, return to boil, then simmer again for 10 minutes, or until reduced to half.
- Add the prunes, meat, and cream to the sauce, and simmer lightly over heat, 8 minutes. If one wants, it can absorb the sauce for an additional period, then heated again finally at the end.
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© 2017 Ryan Thomas