Pork & Prune Stew

Pork & Prune Stew | Brittany's PantryWhenever I come across this recipe I think of Fall.  It is exactly the kind of dish to warm you up after a long day of raking leaves, picking apples, running around a pumpkin patch, or just plain spending time outdoors bundled against the cold.  It is warm and hearty with an unexpected flavor that is comforting and satisfying at the same time.

If you are glancing below at the title of this recipe (save your neck-it’s called Pork & Prune Stew) and thinking to yourself, “Yeah right.  I don’t do prunes.”  Wait please!  I implore you!  Hear me out.  Prunes, now normally called ‘dried plums’ in an effort to revamp their reputation, have always been a favorite snack of mine.  They are sweet, chewy, and crazy good for you.  They are high in potassium, Vit K, and Vit A, and in case you are rolling your eyes at me, I will sum up.  THEY ARE GOOD FOR YOU!  You should be eating them, giving them to your children as snacks, and generally making them a part of a balanced diet. Aaaaand……end lecture.

I may have mentioned this before a time or two.  Or twenty.  But this recipe is the one of the reasons I started blogging.  People think that cooking, or baking for that matter, is hard or complicated or a process not worth bothering with.  And then they eat something like this stew at my house and they rave about how good it is and ask me to make it again when they come over.  I always say the same thing.  “Or you could make it yourself!”  Not because I don’t want to cook for them (obviously) but because people are so happy when they do something successfully.  And if I can pass along a recipe that I can nearly guarantee will turn out great and taste amazing, then that success is passed along to you.  Like I always tell my kids; “It isn’t rocket science, its just (fill in the blank)!”  In this case, that blank is filled with the word ‘cooking’.  So chill out.  Relax.  Make this stew, put it in the oven, go rake some leaves, then let the heavenly smells lead you back in where it is warm.  You will be so glad you did.Pork & Prune Stew | Brittany's Pantry One Year Ago: Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding & How To: Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Pork & Prune Stew
Adapted from Eating Well
The prunes come out so wonderfully sweet you won’t believe it.  Apricots would work well here too.  This is fantastic served with carrots or roasted squash and it is even better as leftovers.

4 pounds pork butt, pork roast, or pork shoulder (it is actually all the same but with different names) trimmed of large pieces of fat and cut into 1 inch chunks-your butcher can do this if you ask nicely
salt and pepper
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 T brown sugar
1 scant T freshly grated ginger
1 can beef broth
2 c pitted prunes
1 c port

In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat a few tablespoons of canola, vegetable, or olive oil over medium to medium high heat.  Season the pork with salt and pepper and brown it in the oil in a single layer so as not to crowd the pan.  Do this in batches, removing the pork to a large plate.  If you put too much meat in it will steam instead of brown so be patient.  Let it get some color on it, but don’t worry that it isn’t cooked through.  Once all the meat is browned and set aside, add the onion, garlic, carrot, thyme, and a bit more salt and pepper.  Sweat the veggies over medium heat, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan as you go.  After a minute or two, and when the onions are just starting to cook through, add the vinegar, brown sugar, and the beef broth.  Let come up to a bubble and add the pork back in with any accumulated juices on the plate.  Stir it a bit until the pork is settled in the broth.  Cover the pot and place in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until the pork is fork tender.  Meanwhile, simmer the prunes and port together in a small saucepan for 7-10 minutes, or until the prunes are soft and the port is thick and syrupy.  Set aside.  When the stew is done and the meat is soft, let it sit on the stove for a bit to settle and then skim or blot the excess fat off the top.  Stir in the prunes and port mixture and serve over polenta or mashed potatoes.