This is a riff off one of my favorite recipes from Paula Wolfert’s The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen. Hers is a savory-and-sweet Southwestern French stew of pork and carrots with pearl onions and prunes—here I’ve replaced whole carrots with diced parsnips and swapped the peeled, blanched pearl onions for sliced leeks, making it altogether easier and just as delicious. Serve on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes, over egg noodles or with a crusty loaf of homemade bread.
1½ pounds pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground fennel (crushed fennel seeds)
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices thick-cut smoky local bacon, diced
2 medium leeks, split lengthwise and well cleaned, then sliced crosswise into ½-inch half moons
4 fat spring-dug parsnips, peeled, cored and diced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
½ cup white wine
1½ cups chicken stock
1 cup pitted prunes, cut in quarters
1 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Season the pork well on all sides with plenty of salt and pepper and the fennel. In a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons oil and add the pork, browning the meat on all sides (be careful not to crowd the pan, so do this in batches if necessary). Once all the meat is browned, remove it from the pan and set aside on a plate.
Add the bacon to the pan; sauté, stirring, until crispy, then add the leeks and parsnips. Brown the vegetables, sizzling in the oil; season with salt and pepper, then add the mustard and vinegar. Boil the liquid away, then add the wine and repeat. Return the pork to the pot and add the stock; bring to a simmer, cover and place in the oven for 1 hour.
Remove the pan from the oven and stir in the prunes. Place on the stovetop to simmer an additional 15 minutes or until the pork is tender all the way through. Add the chopped parsley just before serving.
Sarah Blackburn is a home cook, recipe developer, soccer mom, Italophile and managing editor at Edible Boston. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.