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Russian Hearty Pork, Prunes, and Bacon Stew Recipe

Ryan Thomas is a university graduate who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.

A hearty pot of the completed stew.

A hearty pot of the completed stew.

Prunes are, as far as I know, not often used in main courses in the United States. This seems like something of a shame, as they provide a delicious amount of sweetness while still being a pleasant fruit to eat—none of that guilty-feeling sugar! So far, I've mostly seen prunes in some Russian (or former USSR) dishes, and in some French plates. And in both cases, I've enjoyed them immensely. This one is no different, with a hearty meal composed of pork, bacon, onions, and prunes.

My Recipe Adaptation

This recipe is adapted from Please to the Table, The Russian Cookbook by Anya von Bremzen. The adaption is actually quite drastic, as I didn't have the lapsang souchong tea which the original recipe calls for, and I was hence forced to compensate with a variety of flavors to attempt to match the apparently "smoky" flavor of the original recipe. I'm not convinced that I really did, although it has its own vibrant flavor with nice hints of cumin and cinnamon.

I advise getting the book to check out the original recipe with the tea, if you have access to it! It is a superb recipe book from which I have taken many of my favorite recipes. In my case, it unfortunately isn't sold at my grocery store.

This dish goes well served over rice or pasta. Carrots would be a good vegetable to add if one desired vegetables other than onion or cilantro in the stew.


  • 1 pound pork
  • 2 onions
  • 6 ounces prunees
  • 3 pieces bacon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (or olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • miscellaneous cilantro or parsley, for garnish


  1. Combine the prunes with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and slightly more than 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and allow to sit for at least 1 hour.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet, and when hot, add 2 onions and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Fry for 12 minutes until they are starting to brown.
  3. Coat the pork cubes in flour, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a casserole dish/dutch oven, and sauté until brown on all sides.
  4. Add the onions from the skillet, along with 1/2 cup beef stock, 3/4 cup red wine, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Allow this to rest while cooking the bacon.
  5. Cook the bacon until crispy. Add into the casserole. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Heat until boiling, then cover, and put in the oven for 45 minutes.
  7. Add 4 cloves garlic, prunes, 1/2 the prune's soaking liquid, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cover and cook again at 350°F for 10 minutes, then uncover and let cook 10 minutes uncovered at the same temperature, then serve, garnished with cilantro or parsley leaves.

© 2018 Ryan Thomas