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Cooking with Raymond

Roast loin of pork stuffed with prunes

A classic Maman Blanc dish. Pork is the staple meat in Franche-Comtèe so a lot of dishes are devised to use it but this is a Sunday dish to be especially looked forward to. It uses the classic combination of fruit with pork – two ingredients which love each other. Like all great home-cooking, this recipe doesn't use stock.

Name of dish: Roast loin of pork
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 1.5 hours
Serves: 6-8 people
Roast pork with prunes Photo © Dagmara Ponikiewska/iStockphoto

Planning ahead

  • The prunes must be soaked 6 hours in advance - marinaded in Cognac or Armagnac. Pruneaux d'Agen are the very best prunes. The loin of pork can be filled with the prunes half a day in advance, ready to be cooked. Ask your butcher to bone the loin and trim off the skin and excess fat but to leave a thin layer of fat about 3mm thick. Also ask for the pork bones to be chopped into small pieces.

Ingredients

  • 1.2kg Pork loin and bones (Chef's note 1)
  • 30ml 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 30g 2 tbsp unsalted Butter
  • 220g 1 large Tomato, marmande or beef, pricked with a fork all the way round (Chef's note 2)
  • 5g 1 clove Garlic, unpeeled
  • 1g 1 sprig Thyme
  • 100ml Maderia
  • 300ml Cold water
  • 24 Prunes, d'Agen (pitted)
  • 90 6 tbsp Cognac or Armagnac

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Open up the loin of pork. Flatten it onto the table, fat side down. Lightly season with salt and pepper and place 8-10 of the marinaded prunes along the middle of the loin.
  2. Roll the loin up and secure both ends tightly with skewers, then tie with 8 turns of string. Remove the skewers.
  3. In a small roasting tray, on medium heat, lightly brown the bones in the oil and butter for 5 minutes (Chef's note 3) then place the loin of pork on top of the bones.
  4. Add the tomato, garlic and thyme to the roasting tray. Cover loosely with foil and cook in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the tray from the oven and place the loin on a plate, wrapped up in the foil and rest it for 30 minutes (Chef's note 4).
  6. Tip the roasting tray slightly and spoon out half the fat (Chef's note 5).
  7. Add the Maderia to the bones and bring to the boil, scraping the caramelized bits from the bottom of the tray. Reduce the Maderia by 2/3rds, then add the water and simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Strain the juice through a fine sieve into a medium casserole and reduce to 200ml, add the remaining prunes to the sauce and reserve, keeping warm. Taste and correct seasoning.
  9. Unwrap the foil from the pork, cut off the strings and carve into 12 to 16 slices (according to the number of diners).
  10. Pour any juices released from the meat into the casserole sauce. Arrange the slices of pork in the middle of a warm serving dish and pour the juice and prunes on and around the cooked slices.
  11. Serve to your guests with an array of seasonal, summer vegetables and seasonal wild mushrooms as a lighter alternative to a traditional roast.

Chef's notes

  1. Our pig farmers are now offering some wonderful quality pork.
  2. Pricking the tomato helps release the juices into the roasting tray to mix with the meat juices and cook together to add more flavour.
  3. The browning of the bones must be done on medium heat, firstly, to avoid burning the butter and secondly, not to caramelise the bones too quickly.
  4. Resting allows two things to take place; firstly, the meat will be tenderised and secondly, many juices will run out which will be added to the sauce later on to ensure all the flavour is retained in the dish. Wrapping the meat in foil during this process helps to keep it warm.
  5. This reduces the fat content of the dish but we need to retain some of this fat to create a "jus gras". This is a classic French home-cooking technique. By not removing all the fat from the pan, when you add water, you create an emulsion which will thicken the jus and, of course, add an enormous amount of flavour without being overly rich.

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