This is an old family recipe, adapted from a lamb and prune stew that came from my father-in-law Jim’s recipe files that he collected from the defunct New York Herald Tribune some fifty odd years ago.
The original recipe called for lamb and I substituted pork because pork is a leaner cut of beef and I thought it would make it a bit lighter. I also made a couple of other subtle changes such as substituting beef broth for the water that was called for in the original recipe because I believe it added more flavor and I also added a splash of red wine to the broth.
I encourage you, if you like lamb, to definitely use the lamb. If Jim were alive today, I think he would approve of my subtle changes with the beef broth and wine, but I also think, no I know that he would have preferred the lamb.
Over the years the people who market dried fruit changed dried prune’s name to dried plums, probably wisely, so if you go to the market and can’t find prunes, look for plums.
I’ve chosen turmeric rice to accompany the stew instead of plain white rice to give the dish a bit of color and a more distinctive flavor. If you’ve never cooked with turmeric, take note that it stains absolutely everything it comes in contact with a bright yellow, including your fingers, your kitchen towels, and counter. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Jim's Pork & Prune Stew
Adapted from Jim Hoffer’s recipe files clipped from the New York Herald Tribune – serves 4
1 ¼ pounds pork tenderloin or lamb, trimmed of fat and cut in 1”cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
3 cups boiling beef bouillon or water
A healthy splash of dry red wine
1 stick cinnamon
12 pitted dried prunes or dried plums, cut in half
1 teaspoon grated orange rind plus more for garnish
In a Dutch oven brown the meat in the hot oil. Take care not to crowd the pan. If necessary, brown the meat in batches. Add the onions and cook to soften. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, thyme and flour. Add the boiling water and stir to mix thoroughly. Add a healthy splash or red wine and the stick of cinnamon, cover and simmer for two hours. Add prunes and grated orange rind and simmer for an additional 20 minutes. Garnish with additional grated orange rind and serve right away with turmeric rice, or if you prefer, white rice.
Turmeric Rice or Riz au Tumerique
From The 60 Minute Gourmet by Pierre Franey – serves 4
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup white rice (I used Uncle Ben’s converted rice)
2 teaspoons powdered turmeric
1 ½ cups chicken broth plus more as needed
1 teaspoon Kosher salt if using low-fat broth
1 bay leaf
Melt half of the butter in a small saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until wilted, then add the rice and turmeric. Stir to coat. Add the broth, salt if using, and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook exactly 17 minutes. Uncover and stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter.
Cook’s notes: You may have to add more broth if it cooks away before the end of cooking time. Taste before serving and if not quite done, cook until you are pleased with the doneness. Take care with the turmeric. It stains everything that it comes in contact with a bright yellow.