Monday, March 21, 2011

You Can't Say Prune

The winner of the fruit re-brand of the decade has to be the prune.  Now cleverly packaged in a single snack portion as a dried plum, the marketing team, like Jack Horner, can pat themselves on the back for pulling out a plum from the sales pie chart.*  I laugh but admire the effort and more, the success of turning this little stone fruit’s dried version from withered, back cabinet stalwart to the juicy darling of backpacks everywhere. 

Having gotten over our fear of dried prunes, I propose we take a second look at the jarred prune.  Drained of its syrup, its wonderful mixed in hot and cold cereals and on yogurt with some wheat germ.   However, its real calling in life is in sauces for pork, lamb and chicken.  Sauces can make a fast meal more satisfying and this low fat, high fiber sauce tastes delicious.  And if you are having company, this sauce is “restaurant level” and can be prepared in minutes while an elegant pork loin finishes roasting in the oven.

Port Wine Prune-er-Plum Sauce
Makes about a cup.
5-6 prunes in syrup, drained
3 oz beef broth
4 oz port wine
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
salt and pepper

  1. Remove pits from prunes and dice.  
  2. Combine with broth and wine in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until bubbling.  Lower heat and cook 2-3 minutes until sauce has thickened.  
  3. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon (small pat) cold butter. Taste and add salt and pepper.  
  4. Add a bit more sweet wine if sauce tastes too beefy.  This is a lightly sweet/savory sauce. 
Note: Red wine with a 1/2 teaspoon of honey or Madeira can be used if there is no port in the house.

Roast Pork Loin
2 pounds will serve four with a nice amount of leftovers for sandwiches or a stir fry.  Double the recipe for a 4-pound roast.
1/4 teaspoon each: dried thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, savory, black pepper, salt. 
1/2 teaspoon each Dijon mustard and olive oil
  1. Mix herbs with Dijon mustard and olive oil to form a paste.  Rub over top and sides of loin.  
  2. Roast in a preheated oven at 450˚F for 10 minutes.  
  3. Without opening oven door, lower temperature to  325˚F and roast 40-50 minutes until internal temp of 155˚F (150˚F if you like the meat a bit pink).  Rest 15 minutes covered before slicing. 
Serve slices of pork loin with Port Wine Prune-er-Plum Sauce.

*Little Jack Horner
Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said 'What a good boy am I!

I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes ,Oxford University Press, 1951