Pork Stew with Prunes and Armagnac

Here is an in-your-face stew, which says to the cold winter season: Bring it on. Nothing is bashful about this stew. Fortified with wine and spirits, perfumed with rosemary and juniper, this is a hearty slow-cooked wonder and a perfect vehicle for pork. The key ingredient, of course, is the Armagnac, a French brandy derived from grapes, in which inky prunes macerate, before the whole lot is dumped into the stock. Just be sure to pour yourself a little to enjoy before and after this rich and warming meal.

Pork Stew with Prunes and Armangnac

Serves 6.

20 prunes
3/4 cup Armagnac brandy
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds pork shoulder meat, excess fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch chunks
4 ounces bacon, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bottle full bodied red wine
2 bay leaves
1 bouguet garni: 4 juniper berries, 3 rosemary sprigs, 2 thyme sprigs, handful of parsley leaves

Combine prunes and Armagnac in a bowl. Let sit at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a dutch oven or oven-proof pot with lid. Season the meat all over with salt and pepper. Sauté in batches, without overcrowding, until brown on all sides. Transfer meat to a bowl. Add bacon to dutch oven and sauté until the fat renders. Add carrots and onion. Sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Return meat to the pot with any accumulated juices. Add prunes with Armagnac, wine, bay leaves, bouquet garni, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pan and transfer to oven. Bake until meat is very tender, 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Remove from oven and taste to check seasoning. Remove and discard bay leaves and bouquet garni. (Stew may be prepared up to two days in advance. Warm over low heat or in a 300 F. oven before serving.) Serve with mashed potatoes or polenta.

12 responses to “Pork Stew with Prunes and Armagnac

  1. Masterpiece…. this recipe is so perfect that it make me want to go search for a bottle of Armagnac. We do have Cognac around, I am almost sure, but sometimes it pays off to go for the kill ;-)

    I am considering making this tomorrow to be one of our dinners next week, as the Lords of the Weather refuse to accept my requests for 80 F temps

  2. That stew looks really good and comforting! I love the addition of prunes and Armagnac.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  3. Evocative of a cold winter day in Normandy, along the north coast of France or a dark snow bound afternoon at Lake Tahoe a most satisfying winter meal!

  4. Looks delicious – despite our 70 degree weather – should be 80 mid-week. Where is winter?

  5. We love cooking with prunes, but don’t do it too often. Just not something we always remember to reach for. This looks amazing.

  6. This looks delicious, and your photo drew me right in. I have to say that you have me completely intrigued. I’ve never cooked with prunes as a savory dish, and honestly, have never used cognac in cooking either. Everything about this sounds fabulous!

  7. Myles would love me to make this for him. Pinned!

  8. Your savory stew sounds incredibly delicious. Sometimes when I have ordered an Armagnac in France, the drink has come with a soaked prune in it. :)

  9. You know I am making this one VERY soon….you just KNOW IT!

  10. Definitely its very tasty!:) I cooked this month similar dish-beef with prunes yumyum

  11. I can’t stand to smell Armagnac, but I bet it’s perfect in this stew! Lovely!

  12. Lynda, I finally got around to making this amazing dish last weekend. It’s supposed to be spring here but it was chilly and rainy – perfect for stew! I had purchased a bottle of Armagnac back in January when you posted this so I dusted it off. WOW. Incredible flavors, tender meat. My kids loved it, my guests were impressed. I will make this again next winter. The only surprise – it cooked down so much that I really only had enough for 6 fairly small servings. I made sure I had a full 3 pounds of meat AFTER it had been trimmed, so that wasn’t the problem. Maybe next time I should err on the side of 2-1/2 hours in the oven instead of 3? Thanks again for a fabulous recipe.