January 22, 2006

Je mijote...Part Deux

Every Wednesday at 11, I go to the home of my friend, Françoise, for an English/French conversation exchange which mostly turns into a gossipy chat about school or French society. (She's a teacher at one of the schools where I work.) I don't really know what I'd do without her. After all, she's the one who has helped me learn how to scold children, among other things, and has been a vital part of my success here. A few weeks ago her mother was visiting from Normandy and I was invited to stay for lunch.

Well, I ended up being there for 3 hours and I had the most delicious food. The grandma was sweet and the food was truly à la grand-mère. She made braised pork with carrots, onions and prunes. We also had salad, cheese, a slice of tarte aux abricots (from a most delicious German bakery, Le Stübli in the 17th, on which I could do an entire post), then coffee. Perfect! I don't know when cooking with prunes went out of style, but bring it back! They work so well with pork. I've seen a lot of recipes for stews with apricots or dates, but I think apricots have the tendency to make a dish too sweet, whereas prunes don't overpower the other ingredients.

Here is her recipe as best I can remember. (**Also, I should note that it turns out I may have actually been served rabbit that day, so evidently this is great with rabbit, too! I realize I'm exposing myself to ridicule here. Tasted like pork to me.)

Braised Pork with Prunes à la Grand-Mère:

2-3 lbs or so of pork shoulder, or other stew cut, cut into 2-in. chunks
3-4 whole cloves garlic, peeled and just smashed a bit
1 white or yellow onion, sliced
3 carrots, cut into 2-in chunks
1-2 Tbsp. flour
handful dried prunes
4 medium white potatoes, or yukon gold, peeled, halved
maybe 2-3 cans chicken broth (enough to almost cover)
1/2 cup white wine, optional

Salt and pepper the pork. Melt a Tbsp of butter and a splash of olive oil in a dutch oven. When hot, add pork and sear on all sides. Remove pork from pan after nicely browned, then add the onions, carrots, garlic. (Feel free to add other herbs here, too. Thyme, sage, a bay leaf, or herbs de Provence would be nice.) Sprinkle with flour, stir and cook 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn. Deglaze the pan with the white wine or chicken broth (or water). Whisk to mix in flour evenly. Add meat back to pan. Add chicken broth or water to almost cover meat and veggies and bring to a simmer. Cover and continue to simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally and more importantly checking to make sure it isn't rapidly boiling. Add potatoes with about 30-45 minutes left (depending on their size) and prunes with about 10 minutes left. Stirring a Tbsp of dijon mustard into the juice at the end would be a nice finish. Serves 4 well.

This is a basic recipe calling out for experimentation. Stay tuned for Part Trois...

Le Stübli and Stübli Delikatessen
10-11 rue Poncelet
75017 Paris
(a bakery and tea room sits across from the delicatessen, which serves the most fabulous sausage or bratwurst sandwiches smothered with caramelized onions and spicy mustard. Oh la la.)

1 comment:

Ellen said...

Okay, I'm trying this next! The pork roasts are still on sale. I also ended up with a fruity one the other day, but with cranberry jelly instead of prunes. This version lacked onions and was overly sweet.