Serve with Mashed Potatoes with Celery Root
It’s hardly surprising that people who live in a landscape dotted with plum trees should have invented so many different uses for dried plums — otherwise known as prunes. Nor is it surprising that the Poles, who have had a long love affair with pork in all of its forms, would have worked it out that pork needs a touch of sweetness to bring out its best flavor. Several Polish recipes combine pork with fruit, but the most popular combine pork with prunes.
In this recipe, the prunes cook inside the pork, which means that when you slice the loin, each piece comes with an elegant sliver of prune attached. It looks very festive, and isn’t at all difficult. The pork loin needs to be boneless, with a pocket or slit cut down the side so that the prunes can go inside the meat. It isn’t difficult to do with a sharp knife.
You can, incidentally, make this with plum jam instead of prunes. Spread it on rather thickly, but avoid getting too close to the edges so it doesn’t leak out. You can also make it with dried apricots and rosemary, instead of prunes and marjoram, though the flavor is then slightly un-Polish.
- Loin of Pork – boneless, slit down the side
- Garlic – 1 clove, minced
- Marjoram – 2 tbsp dried (or fresh)
- Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
- Salt – to taste
- Pepper – freshly ground
- prunes/dried plums – 12 pitted prunes
- water – 1 cup, boiling
- Rinse the pork loin and pat dry.
- Combine the garlic, marjoram, olive oil, a large pinch of salt, and several grinds of pepper in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the pork loin, including the inside of the pocket, and let sit for 1 hour at room temperature (or refrigerate overnight, covered).
- Place the prunes in a mixing bowl and pour the boiling water over them (if the water doesn’t cover them, add more). Let sit for 30 minutes, and then drain, reserving the prune-infused water.
- When you are ready to start cooking, insert the prunes into the loin pocket, as many as will fit, reserving the rest. Tie up the loin with butcher string in three or four places, just enough so the roast holds together and the prunes stay put.
- In a medium Dutch oven just large enough to hold the loin, brown the meat on all sides over medium-high heat. Pour the prune soaking liquid around the meat and scatter any remaining prunes alongside. Cover, bring to a simmer, and continue simmering over low heat until tender and a meat thermometer registers at least 145F, about 45 minutes to an hour, turning and basting with the pan juices periodically. (If the meat looks too dry, add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water.)
- When the roast is done, remove the meat from the pan and let sit for 10 minutes, tented with foil. Slice thickly and lay out on a platter. Drizzle the slices with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices, and pass the remainder in a sauceboat. Serve immediately.
- Not included in Large Kitchen Box: Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper
- Chef Tips: Add a few whole cloves of garlic, whole sprigs of marjoram, and bay leaves when you add the liquid to the meat. Remove or strain them before serving.
- You can try making a tunnel cut, by cutting a slit down the center of the pork with a long, thin knife (like a meat carving knife) instead of making a slit down the side. That way you don’t have to tie up the meat before cooking.