06 December 2010

Braised Pork with Apricots and Herbed Dumplings

Here I am, back in my comfy, warm living room after a weekend of galavanting about Duchess County in New York State! Silent Bob and I love visiting our old college friends and touring their region to poke around used book stores (4 new/used cookbooks, count 'em!), peek into antiques stores and junk shops (vintage pie bird, platter, and awesome bread knife!), and dine out in some of the coolest restaurants (Italian bistro and 'wahoo' diner) north of New York City. On this trip, we also saw one of the most beautiful waterfalls ... Bash Bish Falls! I know ... what a name, but look!

The weather this past weekend was cold and cloudy, but no snow yet! Folks are starting to get a bit nervous around here, as the temperatures are planning to get really cold in the next few days. With no snow to insulate the ground, plants and shrubs can really suffer. So ... let's put on our dancing shoes and do a snow dance! While I dance around the yard, bringing in the last pots and getting the frozen pumpkins to the compost heap and a spot in the lower yard for the deer to forage, I will be braising these lean cubes of pork sirloin with baby onions, button mushrooms, dried apricots, and various herbs. Later, the dumplings will go on top and SB and I will have a warm 'stick-to-your-ribs' meal by the fire.

This dish is a classic claypot meal, as the meat is seared on top of the stove with the onions and mushrooms, then covered and slowly braised to tenderness in the oven.

Prep time from slice-and-dice to serving is about three hours, so this is a good meal to make when you're hanging about the house doing other things. I plan to have a simple steamed broccoli head to round out my obsession with vegetables; you can do what you like. It was suggested to have mashed potatoes with the dinner, but dumplings are enough carbohydrate for me! Chef wins! Using a flameproof pot allows you to have a one-pot meal and makes clean up an easy matter. Plus, the pot is so pretty and stays warm a good while on the tabletop. Just sayin' ...

Braised Pork Medallions with Apricots and Herb Dumplings

courtesy of Cook’s Encyclopedia of One-Pot & Clay-Pot Cooking


2 tbsp. canola oil
1 ½ lb. lean pork, lamb fillet, or beef sirloin, trimmed off any fat and cubed
12 oz. baby onions, peeled and tipped
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 c. mushroom caps, quartered
¾ c. dried apricots, halved
about 1 c. good beef stock or lamb stock
1 c. red wine
1 tbsp. tomato paste
kosher salt and black pepper
fresh herb sprigs ( thyme, rosemary, and parsley)

Dumpling Ingredients:

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. vegetable shortening
2 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs
enough cold water to make a soft elastic dough

Making the Dish:

1. Heat a flame proof clay pot with the oil in it over low heat. Bring the heat up to medium high and add the pork cubes, browning on all sides.

2. When the pork is browned on all sides, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3. Lower the heat a bit and add the onions, crushed garlic, and mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes.

4. Return the meat to the clay pot and stir in the dried apricots, stock, red wine, and tomato paste. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

5. Bring the casserole to a slow boil. Cover and place in a pre-heated oven (325 ° F).

6. Cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours in the slow oven, stirring the casserole once or twice and adding extra broth as needed.

Making the dumplings:

7. Cut the shortening into the flour, salt, and baking powder until it resembles peas.

8. Add the chopped herbs and enough cold water to make an elastic dough.

9. Flour your hands and roll small golf ball-sized dumplings. Place them on a plate and chill them for a half hour.

10. Remove the lid of the casserole and place the dumplings gently on top of the braised meat and vegetables.

11. Increase the oven temperature to 375 ° F and , return the casserole to the oven and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes until the dumplings are cooked.

12. Garnish the dish with herb sprigs and serve in the same pot it was cooked in.


  1. What an exciting weekend. Great photos. You can almost feel the coldness right through the pictures. Nice pork recipe, on my list of things to make in 2011.

  2. I love your writing! Sounds like you shop browsing yielded some real treasures. The recipe sounds delicious, pork and apricots, a perfect winter meal. More than anything, the dinner in a clay pot sounds wonderful. Hmmm...a pot like that may be on my Christmas list!

  3. Susan I'm envious of your PERFECT sounding weekend! I can't think of anything I'd rather do on a fall weekend than all the things you mentioned. Loved seeing the photos of your surroundings and the new photos of you are fab! What a warm place to visit, your blog. The recipe sounds great too.

    Hoping your parcel has or will arrive soon!

  4. This is wonderful after a wonderful weekend with friends only to return to a stick-to-your-ribs comfort meal. I NEVER would have thought to do dumplings with pork so thanks for that eye opener.

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors


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