4 prunes, sliced 1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon lard
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon butter
2 pork chops, about 1" thick
salt and pepper
Set up an oven rack so that it is about 1/3 of the way from the bottom of the oven. Make sure there's enough space for your large lidded skillet. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the sliced prunes in a bowl and cover with chicken stock. Set aside.
In the skillet, melt the lard over medium-high heat. When fat is hot, add the onion, thyme leaves and a bit of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for about ten minutes or until onion is nice and soft and translucent. Turn heat down, if needed, to keep onion from browning too much (a little is fine).
Push the onions to the edges of the pan and add the butter to the center. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and cook three minutes on each side. Remove pan from the heat, stir the prunes and chicken stock into the onions, cover the pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning and basting the chops halfway through, until they are cooked through.
Remove chops to a warmed dish and reduce what is left in the pan to use as a sauce. Reduce to your desired thickness and serve over the chops.
Adapted from "Côtes de Porc Poêlées" in Julia Child et al., Mastering the Art of French Cooking (New York: Knopf, 1961), 386-387 and "Stuffed Pork Chops Baked in Cider" in Favourite Somerset Recipes (Sevenoaks: J. Salmon Ltd), 19.
Read more about the ingredients at this previous post.
I thought I'd start with the recipe; Pork Chops with Prunes is a vaguely medieval combination, so I thought it would go well with an Arthurian legend.You've probably noticed by now that I love to combine fruit and pork. It's a really amazing combination. The onions and prunes are all gooey and just vaguely sweet. On to the story...
Based on “Sir Gawain’s Marriage” in Thomas Bulfinch, The Age of Chivalry (Boston: Crosby, Nichols, and Company, 1859) and “The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle,” Thomas Hahn, ed. http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/ragnfrm.htm.
Image source: http://darboriasworld.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/que-veulent-reellement-les-femmes/