Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ragout of Pork with Drunken Prunes and Onions

Every now and then you come across a recipe that makes you hold your fork over the plate, while you’re eating a bite, and you use the fork to point at the food while making those nummy noises…mmmmh…oh my…mmph mmph ahhh. Those noises. This Ragout of Pork with Drunken Prunes and Onions straight from the Spur of the Moment Cookbook is one of those recipes. Don’t get all worked up over prunes. What a delight they are when they are paired with pork. That’s a classic combination.

In this recipe from one of my faves, Perla Meyers, prunes have been marinating overnight in dry vermouth. Then pork is seasoned with fresh ginger, nutmeg and braised in a flavorful beef stock, creating a sauce that is sweet and spicy and peppery all at once. The prunes go in for about fifteen minutes, then the secret ingredients are added at the last minute to blow your mind when you take the first bite. And you take your fork and you point at your food and you start with the noises. Enjoy !

Ragout of Pork with Drunken Prunes and Onions
Adapted from Spur of the Moment Cookbook by Perla Meyers

The day before
1-½ cup large prunes, pitted
¾ cup dry white wine, (I used vermouth)
Put prunes in bowl and pour wine over. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight. It does not have to be refrigerated.

A couple of hours before you want to serve
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 good swirl peanut oil
3-½- 4 lbs boneless pork shoulder (Boston Butt), cut into 1-½ inch pieces (trim as much fat off as you can
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ pound pearl onions, peeled
Large grating of fresh nutmeg
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp all purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 375. Melt the butter together with the oil in large heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté the pork in batches until nicely browned on all sides. Remove from the skillet, season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

Add the onions to the skillet and sauté until nicely browned. Return the pork to the skillet and add the nutmeg, ginger, and flour, and cook for a couple of minutes or until the onions are nicely glazed. Transfer to Dutch oven.

Drain the prunes, save the wine and add the wine to the skillet. Bring to boil, scraping the bottom of the pan until reduced to about 3 tablespoons and add the beef stock. Bring to boil and pour over pork. Cover and braise in the oven for about and hour and 30 minutes.

Add the prunes and cook again for 20 minutes. Remove the pork mixture and degrease the sauce as you wish. Put the pork mixture back in the pot and set over medium heat.
Combine the vinegar and sugar in small bowl. Add the vinegar mix and bring to boil.
Let thicken and serve with egg noodles.

The trick to this recipe is to use a larger than you need dutch oven. It cooks faster and thickens the sauce beautifully.

Serves 4-6



Lannae said...

That looks great! I do love the sweetness of plums and pork combo. Do you think it would work with beef, not pork? Would a red wine, or a sherry work?

Mary Coleman said...

I would think it would work with beef without a problem. I'd definitely chaange the spices...go with a cumin, coriander cinnamon feel to it and then you'd have a Moroccan twist to this. And then you say sherry and it makes me think a dry sherry and a bit of spanish pimenton. and you have a spanish version...

My first thought about red wine is, of course, a beaujolais (because it's my fave) but even a merlot would be good with the pork.

Anonymous said...


I'm thinking that the dish would also be a great roulade--with maybe a little young chevre pressed into service in the filling. Sorry, I loves me some chevre.

I told Claudia that I started reading "The Last Chinese Chef" by the author of "Lost In Translation". It's a love story, but I think I'm following the food side of it with a lot more interest than the human part (although they are inextricably entwined).

My Madeline Kamman book is "The Making Of A Cook". I have to sit down one of these days and make a list of the food/cookbooks I have--it's something around a 100.


cook eat FRET said...

mary meet demmo
demo, mary

mary - he's a true renaissance man who loves to cook but doesn't right now due to a house being renovated...

but i think if he was let loose he'd be a force in the kitchen!

Mary Coleman said...

Demo dear,
From October 2006 until April of 2007, I was kitchenless. Oh sure, we had a makedo kitchen in our living room, but with the refrigerator on the front porch, it wasn't as convenient to cook.
I have been making up for lost time in the kitchen since then. I have a feeling you will do the same!
Regarding the chevre..why the hell not!

Anonymous said...


If I wasn't already one of the pink people (as a former lover used to call us Irishmutts) I'd be visibly blushing! Now, I like that a lot better than somebody telling me I'm "hot", not that I've had to listen to any of those sorts of comments in some years.

The last woman who let me live in her house once told me I should write a cookbook. She said "You could call it, "I Like Lots Of Flavors" cookbook". What can I say, I do like lots of flavors. Tagines are something I love because olives, raisins, oranges and pork, lamb, goat, chicken all go together quite well. One of these days I'm going to buy myself a paella, so's I can make Paella!

It's too cold to work in the house today, so I'm going to a gallery (the Delavan--check out their website)in Syracuse for a "signing" of "Stone Canoe 2" a Central NY arts journal. There is also a Masque Ball this evening but it competes with a concert at the Oswego Music Hall (think small, intimate venue--like the Bluebird Cafe I'v been told about--but with lots of snow and cold). The concert hall is the McCrobie Building in Oswego, about 100 yards from Lake Ontario.

I'm about halfway through that book, "The Last Chinese Chef". I already wanted to go to China someday, now I want to go--today. As I have long thought, American versions of Chinese food are at the spaghetti and pizza level that we used to think was Italian cuisine. Not to say you can't get good food here, but it's quite difficult to find. Having said all of this, I'm sure I'm gonna have a slice for lunch today!