Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wiener Schnitzel (Breaded Cutlets)

The original Viennese "Wiener Schnitzel"  was always made from veal cutlets and no other meat, and for me they are still the best. But schnitzels are also good when made of pork, chicken or turkey breast. The important thing is to ensure that the boneless meat has been thinned and tenderized with a mallet before coating and cooking. Serve with Spaetzle, boiled potatoes or—best—parslied potatoes (see below). If making the parslied potatoes, you will want to begin making them before frying the tenderized cutlets. 

(Serves four)

4 veal cutlets, trimmed of any excess fat
Kosher salt
Fresh-ground black pepper
Flour for dusting
1 egg, beaten
Plain breadcrumbs (for breading)
Vegetable or peanut oil (for frying)
1 lemon, cut into slices or wedges
Fresh parsley, chopped


Put a cutlet down on a solid surface and then cover it with a double layer of plastic wrap. Using a wide mallet or a heavy-bottomed pan, pound the meat evenly until it is about 1/8″ thick all around. Repeat with the other pieces. Salt and pepper the cutlets and then dust them with flour. Dip a cutlet into the egg, making sure you evenly coat both sides, and then put it in the breadcrumbs. Turn it over to bread the other side with the crumbs. Hand-press the breadcrumbs into the meat, getting an even coating of breadcrumbs with no “bald spots.” Repeat with the rest of the cutlets.

In a heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat about 1/8″ of oil until hot. (You can test to see if the oil is hot enough by dropping a breadcrumb into the oil—it should sizzle and float to the top quickly.) Fry one or two cutlets at a time (depending on the size of your cutlets and pan). Wait until you see the edges turn golden; then, using tongs, gently flip it over and fry until the other side is golden. While the cutlets are frying, get a plate or wire rack with three layers of paper towels ready. As they finish, transfer the cooked cutlets to the paper towel–lined plate to soak up any excess oil.

To serve, plate the cutlets and garnish with lemon slices or wedges and parsley.

To make parslied potatoes, boil baby Yukon Golds, washed but still in their skins. When fully cooked, take them out of the water and allow them to reach room temperature. Before frying the cutlets, pull off the potato skins. While the cutlets are frying, melt some butter in a separate pan and warm the potatoes in the butter. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chopped parsley.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Eating in France 2013

The following appeared as a series of articles (4 in total) in The Millbrook Independent describing our three week vacation in France indulging in food and wine. 


By the time you read this article, Gerard and I will be in France on a three-week whirlwind tour visiting friends and family, from which I will be reporting on my culinary experiences. I expect them to be good—even exceptional, as most of our friends and family are true foodies. But in addition to describing wonderful dishes and giving a few recipes, I shall be looking into a couple of specific aspects of French food in 2013.

First is the big question of gluten intolerance: why is it not a problem in France? The French think we are a bit crazy, as they don’t have this problem. Some months ago my doctor suggested that I read the book "Wheat Belly," by Dr. William Davis. As I read, it became obvious that I was one of those people who have developed a wheat intolerance; I was suffering from unpleasant symptoms (descriptions of which have no place on a Food page). I embarked on a gluten-free diet, and unfortunately I must report that it worked. I began to feel much better. As I read the French press mocking us for our "gluten-free" craze, it occurred to me to reread the passages of the book in which the good doctor puts the blame on American flour.

Dr. Davis explains that the flour we consume today is very different from the flour grandma used for her pies. Today’s over-processed flour is made from wheat that has been cultivated with 50- or 60 years of "continuous improvement" and genetic modification aimed at improving yield per acre.  The result creates indigestion for many people. This phenomenon squares with the campaigns in France (and Italy) against Monsanto and other firms that have tried to impose their GMO (genetically modified organism) crops on the lands of "slow food." So my hypothesis is: maybe the wheat-based breads, pastries and pasta in France and Italy do not pose the same problem. As I was considering this radical idea, I received an email from Mother Earth News asking, "Is Being Gluten-Intolerant an American Problem?" In the article a number of readers who had been gluten-free at home recount their experiences on trips to Europe, during which they consumed gluten products: they had no adverse reactions. So, in consultation with my doctor, I’ll try the experiment and just eat the way the French do. I shall let you know if my symptoms come back.

Second, it has been reported in France that the recession has had an adverse effect on the French diet. According to a recent study, the French midday break is down to an average of 22 minutes, compared with nearly 90 minutes two decades ago, when I lived there. Fast-food expenditures now account for 54 percent of restaurant sales. Of course, fast food in France does not refer strictly to McDonald's (whose sales in France are slumping this year). The most important drivers of the fast-food trend are the French boulangeries that offer freshly made soups, salads, quiches, pasta, or sandwiches for the same price as a Big Mac and fries. In France the restaurant business has been hit hard by the recession. 
Third, in an effort to reduce prices, many of the mid-level restaurants are resorting to "reheating outsourced ready-made meals," said lawmaker Daniel Fasquelle, who voted for a law requiring restaurants to print "fait maison" (homemade) on menus indicating dishes made from scratch. "I don't want chefs replaced by microwaves. Forty percent of tourists come here for our cuisine," he said. "If food quality continues to deteriorate, at some point jobs will be at stake. France is not like other countries when it comes to cuisine. It's the country of good food, good wine and we must keep it that way." Of course, I agree with him, and I shall try to get some perspective on these trends and report back to you on any changes I see.
Our first day in France, Gerard and I went to the local outdoor market. It is a relatively small market situated in the suburbs of Paris. Half of the stands were closed because it was August, yet there were still two fish mongers, three fruit and vegetables stands, two meat and a poultry vendor, a bakery, as well as a dairy and cheese specialist. The fruit stands seemed to go on forever with a vast array of peaches, berries and plums. Many kinds of plums each sweeter than the next. It was a feast for the eyes. The fish monger had more kinds of fish than I could recognize, and of course the Coquilles St. Jacques (scallops) still with their corals on them. It seems that we prudes in America, cut off the corals because they are the roe (eggs) and the semen of these hermaphrodites. The French fearing no such association with reproduction, enjoy both the muscle and the coral.

Veal hanger steak
At the meat counter my eye was caught by a cut I had never seen before. Next to the "onglet" or hanger steaks, was a similar cut but a lighter shade of pink and marked "onglet de veau" or veal hanger steak. Having never had or even heard of this before, I am pretty sure this was not readily available years ago when I lived in France, so I was eager to try it. We bought a few, pan fried them and served them with a bit of parsley-garlic butter.  Delicious. Tender, juicy and a stronger veal flavor than most cuts of veal. I wish we had it in Millbrook. That night Loulou (who will be 90 next week) made a soup au pistou with beans, carrots, leeks, potatoes, string beans and of course the basil- garlic-parmesan pesto sauce added at the table.

Lunch in Celles sur Belles

With an eight hour drive ahead of us, Gerard and I decided to break it up with a lovely lunch. We chose a restaurant in this little village known for its 17th Century Royal Abbey. In the shaded garden we enjoyed a special cocktail of Tourteau (much like a Dungeness crab its meat is somewhere between a crab and a lobster) over a brunoise de legumes.  We each had fish unknown in our waters, he a Filet de Loubine, and me a Pave de Maigre Girotte. Both were mild flavored white fish served in boneless fillets.  To finish we shared an incredibly impressive dessert made with meringue, almond cream and white chocolate which was as good as it looked. 


Here I sit on a splendid terrace surrounded by huge planters of red, pink and purple flowers, overlooking many miles of farmlands. We are visiting Laurent & Michelle Manrique (the couple's whose wedding we attended last year in Hawaii). Laurent is an extremely creative chef. His excellent mastering of French technique is combined with an innate and incredibly developed sense of taste and smell. He is capable of recalling them the way others can recall airs of music. And with a flair he can imagine how flavors will combine and create new dishes. (Readers will remember the watermelon, tomato and lobster salad he created one night at our home in Millbrook).  Patrons of Café de la Presse, Rouge et Blanc, Blanc et Rouge or the new Aquitaine in San Francisco or Millesime (where I fell in love with his lobster pot au feu) in NYC will understand.

We are in the tiny village of Roques, the birthplace of Laurent.  Population of the town is 115, but the village itself is but 22. At least half of them are relatives. We are with Laurent, his family and his partner Chris. They pulled out all the stops and made us a number of Gascogne specialties.
 The aperitif - the traditional "Pousse Rapière" (sword thrust) made of 3/4 Champagne and 1/4 Armagnac (official recipes suggest creme de amagnac) was served. Legend has it that the Three Musketeers (heroes of Gascony) drank this before battle to give them the strength to thrust the blades of their swords into and through the hearts of their enemies. 

Gascony is, of course, the home of foie gras, so we can expect to have it served in one fashion or another each day of our three day stay here. This evening was foie gras du canard made by Laurent's mother, Nicole and served simply on toast to accompany the Pousse Rapier. Then came her sister Glady's famous escargot. The recipe is traditionally one of the Basque country with some North African influences (left over from the Moors.) Unlike the classic "Escargots à la Bourguignonne" with herb butter, these snails are in a slightly piquant sauce made with tomatoes, ham, onions, and red peppers and seasoned with garlic, paprika, and cumin. No special escargot dishes or instruments here. Each of us was given a ladle of snails and a toothpick and with which we easily extricated them. I was told that the more traditional Gascone way of preparing snails is straight on the grill. Having been fed a special diet long enough for them to rid themselves of any nasty elements, the snails are placed alive on the burning charcoals with just a bit of salt and a drop or two of oil to cook up perfectly. Our hosts explained they had had a mishap the week before as the escargot were still far too alert when placed on the grill so they had actually starting walking right out of the fire. This turned off a few of the guests, so they have come back to Gladys's recipe.

The main course was of course, magret de canard. Very simply grilled on the barbecue. No rub, no marinade, no sauce. Just plain grilled duck. The choice offered was between rare or very rare ensuring that each piece was both tender and rich with flavor.  (If you do not like your meat rare, it is better to eat chicken, because the duck becomes too chewy and loses much of its great flavor when overcooked.)  I asked Laurent if we could grill the magrets we found in America this way. He answered, "alas, no. They just are not the same." The magrets were served with what the Gascones call "baked potatoes", meaning they are made in the oven. But unlike our baked potatoes, these Yukon Golds (Agata in French) are peeled, cut up into 1/2 "cubes and baked on a heated cookie sheet that has been greased with duck fat. Seasoned with salt and pepper, they cooked at 350F for the 30-40 minutes it took for the aperitif. During this meal we went on crescendo from a lovely wine to the sublime.  We started with a Cote-Rotie, M Chapoutier, 1994, then a wine from the South West which is little known in the US called a Madiran, Chateau Monteus, 1990. We continued with a Pomerol Chateau La Fleur-Petrus 1993 and then a St. Emillion Grand Cru 2003 from Chateau Lassegue, and finally a Chateau Lafitte Rothschild Pauillac,1992. Dessert was the "Croustade Gasconne" a regional specialty made of apples, or in this case, peaches, cream and a topping of handmade razor thin crispy flakes of a filo type dough. I could imagine the hours of work involved in confectioning this lovely dessert, as the flakes melted in my mouth giving way to the sweet yet slightly tart  peach flavor. The experience was enhanced by the spectacular pairing with a lovely sauterne- a Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2001.

Dinner took a good three hours and I must hasten to add that we were 12 people consuming all of this. We ate leisurely and it occurred to me that lively conversation is very much a part of the dining experience in France. We ate slowly savoring each item and entertaining each other with funny stories. My French impressed one of Laurent's uncles when he realized that this American fully recognized just how off color some of his stories were.  
Last week we drove to a small mountain village St. Chely D'Aubrac in Auvergne. It is on a pilgrimage trail, so many a hiker is spotted with their back packs and walking sticks stopping at cafes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our three days here would not be as rustic as that. We were visiting our friends, Francois and Martine, at their country home. It is a stone house and garden overlooking a mountain stream . The soothing sound of the watering rushing by adds to the ambiance. The interior has been redone and has all of the space and comforts of a modern home furnished with a charming mixture of traditional and modern pieces.  They welcomed us with a simple but tasty dinner at home. Grilled baby lamb chops (lamb was naturally raised in nearby Lozere).  As I side dish we ate sauteed zucchini with cantal cheese melted on top. I would soon discover that melting cantal cheese (or tomme fraiche) into or on top of various dishes is an important element of Auvergne cuisine. The dinner was finished with a "Flausanne" - a flan baked in a Pate de Fouace - a thin layer of brioche pastry to which a touch of fleur d'orange has been added, another regional specialty made by the local bakery.

Francois and Martine love food but prefer to eat out giving us the opportunity to discover this very beautiful region by driving to the most interesting culinary destinations in the area. It is important to mention that on this trip we did not visit BRAS, which is, of course, the best table in the area and one of the best in France. We did so ten years ago on our last trip to Aubrac when Michel Bras was still at the helm. He has passed the reigns to his son Sebastian, who was already cooking when we came last time. By all accounts the quality and creativity have remained at the same level, so I would encourage anybody passing through who cares more about great food than the cost of it, to try to get a reservation there. Our mission this year is to discover new places and really learn the traditional specialties of the regions we visit.

Auberge de Méjanassère.
Our first such adventure was luncheon (it started at 1:00 and ended at 4:00) at the Auberge de
Méjanassère. Near to nothing it is situated at the end of a 3 mile dirt road that climbs the mountain through a series of hair pin turns. It is actually a farm and a vineyard that has a few hotel rooms, and a restaurant which serves a copious meal made essentially from the products they raise on the farm.  However, you do not get to choose. They make what they choose to and you are served it and nothing else. Another peculiar practice is that they only serve one meal a day alternating between lunch and dinner. When calling to reserve a table you may learn when and what they are serving. There is room for about 35 people inside and another 25 on the terrace. We went for lunch and ate on the terrace and loved everything they brought us.

Lunch started with the traditional Auvernac plate of homemade charcuterie of terrines, pates, hams and salamis with pickles and bread. A simple taste of each is all that is recommended because it is easy to fill up on these delicacies leaving no room for the parade of specialties that are about to follow.  In good time (the service is not rushed) a  platter of "pascade aux herbes" was brought to the table. They looked like potato pancakes, but instead of being made from potatoes and onions this seemingly healthier version is made with spinach and Swiss chard. Delicious. We each ate two. Fortunately that is all there was because it would have been difficult to resist a third and there is still much more food to come.  (The very easy recipe for pascade is featured on this page.) A salad of local greens with edible flowers was net. Followed by sliced roast pork that was roasting on the spit when we entered. Most important was the traditional aligot - a puree of potatoes mixed with cream and cantal cheese. Probably not included on too many diets, but definitely a great tasting dish. I prefer it as a main course with a salad than as a side dish, but we all have to make sacrifices.   A cheese platter of local cheeses and homemade ice cream with fruit for dessert finished off the meal. All of the wines were made on premise and accompanied well the meal. After driving home we went for a long walk and a short rest to get ready for dinner. We would have to eat again.

Buron et Lac de Born
A mere 45 minute drive to reach the Plateau D' Aubrac, a large expanse of flat fields fairly high on the mountains, where the cows are brought to graze from the end of May until October. The Aubrac race are well known and prized for their delicious grass fed beef. Almost no fat but much flavor. The buron is a rustic bistro where only traditional dishes are served and the Aubrac beef is served in a variety of cuts. We took the "Cote de Boeuf" and while they recommended one for two people we six shared two and there was some left over for a doggie bag. (Of course, we had had a copious lunch and were not starving.) Before the main course we were served the obligatory charcuterie and surprised ourselves by tasting their pates, ham and salamis, which were just as good but very different from those we had eaten at lunch. The red meat was served bright red and it was barely tolerated to ask for it to be cooked a bit more.- like a dark pink. But it was tender an flavorful and much better rare than medium rare. I took only a spoonful of the aligot, enough to compare it with that of lunch. (this one had a rather strong garlicky flavor and seemed heavier than the one I loved at lunch. I opted for the other traditional side dish which is the truffade (also known as Refortillat).  This is a pan filled with potatoes on which cantal has been melted.) Unaware of its heritage, I have been making a similar dish for years with Swiss cheese. We drank Marsillac, a varietal that is grown in the region and seemed to go well with everything we ate, but there was no need to export it.

Restaurant de Vieux Pont, Belcastel
In a picture book village set in a tiny valley along the banks of the Aveyon, sits a beautiful stone bridge covered in ivy. Overlooking the bridge and the river is this lovely fine dining restaurant where we had our last meal in Auvergne. The chef welcomed us with a refreshing zucchini gazpacho. The three course meal consisted of a tomato confit and eggplant crumble, lamb sweetbreads with cauliflower puree (what a great idea!) and roast veal.  A very nice local wine "Ondenc" was served. We listened to the story of the large castle that dominate the village, which had remained empty for many decades until recently bought by an American couple who refurbished it and now spend their summers in this lovely village. I asked their name and the restauranteur smiled and admitted to only remembering their first names: Nick and Heidi. I later found out that their last name is Leone.

Giscard d'Estaing
While we are on the subject of names, villages and castles, I was amused to see another lovely village nearby called Estaing. Showing off my profound knowledge of French culture I remarked that I assumed that this was the native village of the former president of France, Valery Giscard d'Estaing. My hosts were quite amused at my naive American assumption, and responded that no, his family was never from the village but that they had purchased the "d'" indicating the nobility. French nobles traditionally place a d' (meaning "of") after their name and before the name of their village to indicate their position. When a noble line comes to an end because of a lack of male heirs, one may purchase it, which Giscard's family did. Recently Giscard himself purchased the chateau in that same village so posterity will probably forget how it was gotten.

In promised to report back on how boulangeries/patisseries have fought back and won over the invading fast food chains. They have added sandwiches, crepes, individual portioned quiches, varieties of French versions of individual pizzas and other finger food that they sell for a fast food which the French prefer to hamburgers and fries. MacDonald is still going strong but sales have slumped as these traditional French vendors learned a few lessons from them and have increased their market share.  Now, I see the word "sanwicherie" added to the boulangerie, patisserie signs.

Gluten-freeIt is now 10 days that I have not been gluten free in France and must report that I am not having the kinds of problems I had in the US that made me give up gluten. One of the signs on a bakery may explain why. It read "All of our products are made with flour made from wheat that has been naturally cultivated and milled locally". 

Aix en Provence
I doubt that there is a better way to visit Aix en Provence than as guests of Frederic & Shirin Fekkai. The estate they built on what was once barren land is sumptuous. Breathtaking views, manicured gardens, fields of lavender and a large house that was well designed and decorated to be both beautiful and comfortable. So comfortable that I have to force myself to drive the five minutes it takes to get into town. But we did and visited the famous market where we saw probably over 100 vendors selling all sorts of produce, as well as the pottery, tablecloths, and espadrilles for which Provence is famous.

Frederic was planning a Pizza Party for the evening, so we stopped at La Fromagerie Du Passage Agard. Rarely have I seen such a beautiful boutique. Walls of wine bottles with a choice of at least 15 different roses from Provence in all different sizes. The display cases of certainly over 100 cheeses and saucissons Basques. We bought a "Jesus" which was one of the best saucissons either of us had ever tasted. We lunched at L'Epicerie at the Place de 3 Ormeaux.  As the name indicates, it is a grocery store that sells fine foods, but it also has a lovely terrace where they serve meals or coffee and tea in between lunch and dinner. There was a tempting choice of salads and main courses but my culinary curiosity got the best of me when I saw that their specialty was a "Roast Chicken au Coca Cola." Having spent 10 years of my life advertising Coca Cola to the French, I was stupefied to see this on one of their menus.  I have never even seen it in Atlanta! The chicken was moist and the skin nice and crispy. There was a slightly sweet flavor in the dark meat but nothing to prevent me from enjoying the meal. The desserts however were worth the detour. A lemon tarte that was exceptional, but above all the best Baba Au Rhum I have ever eaten. Actually I never much liked this dessert which I remember as a rich, heavy, soggy cake soaked in rum. Too wet, too heavy, too sweet. But they insisted we try it and brought to us a fairly large single portion cake with a syringe filled with rum. The cake itself was light and fluffy with a touch of rum flavor. When we emptied the syringe onto the cake so it absorbed more rum, it did not have the time to get soggy but stayed light and fluffy with the rich flavor of what was clearly an excellent rum. I highly recommend this dish.

Here in Aix (I am getting very local by using the town's nickname) when you have a pizza party  for about 30 people, you do not get the pizza delivered.  A truck comes to you and makes the pizzas to order on the spot.  Thin crusted in a variety of toppings: with and without tomatoes, cheese, olives, anchovies and mushrooms. Some boasted that the pizzas were better than in Italy, but with hats off to my Italian friends, I must say they were at least just as good.

After Aix we drove to Avignon to see the famous bridge and were enchanted by the beauty of the Pope's Palace (the popes from 1309 to 1378 were all French and housed in Avignon, not Rome.) At the foot of the palace is the La Mirande Hotel, once a cardinal's mansion, now a 5 star hotel
and highly noted gastronomic restaurant. We ate in the beautiful gardens and were as impressed with the food as the ambiance. We selected the " Méli-mélo of heirloom tomatoes, parmesan shortbread and fresh goat cheese." I expected the tomatoes to be flavorful, which they were, but the parmesan shortbread was a true discovery.  The main course was an exquisite Seabass fillet served with baby artichokes and roasted fingerling potatoes. Dessert was to our surprise a Baba au Rhum, which was good but not quite as good as the one at L'Epicerie. . Chef Jean-Claude Aubertin  came to greet us and took us for a tour of both the modern and the old basement kitchens and wine cellar- built in the early 17th century. He expects to be coming to New York this winter, and we made plans to visit one of our better restaurants together.

Frog's Legs
Last June,  the New York Times did a write up on a restaurant in Les Echets (a little village outside of Lyon) that specialized in frogs' legs claiming it was "a temple to frogs." Gerard who had, in his boyhood, enjoyed both catching and eating frogs prepared by his restaurateur grandmother, immediately made reservations for us and our trip was rerouted to include a frogs leg dinner.  I probably would have skipped the experience conjuring up memories of very garlicky frogs' legs dripping in butter, but marriage requires compromise, so I agreed.

The restaurant has been a notable stop for travelers for the last century and has remained in the family for four generations.  Master Chef, Christophe Marguin, offers a menu of many appetizing dishes, but we were here for the frogs' legs, so that is what we chose.   We were served frogs' legs in three different ways: fricassee, soup, and finally the classic sautéed frogs’ legs in butter. For this last dish, Chef Marguin lightly coats the frogs' leg with a very fine flour, heats the butter in a large frying pan until it sizzles forming large bubbles. The secret to success is waiting until the butter foams and rises in the pan turning nut-colored before putting the frogs' legs in to cook. As soon as they turn crispy brown, they are turned over one by one. Then they are sprinkled with raw chopped parsley and garlic and placed under the broiler for just five seconds before serving. They were succulent. We were advised that they are best eaten with your fingers (which seems incongruous in the classic fine dining restaurant) but I looked around and found that was the way that most of the diners were eating them. The frogs' legs dinner remains a highlight of our three weeks of eating in France. For dessert he too offered a Baba Au Rhum (it seems to be in igh fashion this season), but we opted for something chocolate instead.

Now we return to Millbrook, where our meals will be salads, vegetables, fish and chicken, all in small portions until we lose the extra pounds we put on during our gastronomic holiday. In rereading this column, I relived some of those moments and have to admit, I think it was all worth it. 

Prune Stuffed Rack of Pork

This recipe was taught to me by Christian Delouvrier, executive chef of La Mangeoire on Second Avenue and 53rd Street. It looks more difficult than it actually is, and it never fails to impress. Serve with mashed potatoes—the sauce is too good not use on something else.  This is cannot be a last-minute decision, because you need to marinate the prunes for two days before roasting the meat. Serves eight.


2 cups pitted prunes
1 cup Armagnac
One rack of pork with 8–10 chops (Ask the butcher to prepare so it can be cooked whole but sliced into chops once cooked.)
Coarse salt
Coarse pepper
¾ cup duck fat (or vegetable oil)
2 large tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded and cubed
2 cups chopped onions
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
½ cup dry white wine
3½ cups veal stock
¼ cup clarified butter
4 endives, trimmed and blanched


Two days before roasting, place the prunes in Armagnac in a nonreactive bowl, seal with plastic film and refrigerate.

On the day you plan to serve the roast, using a sharp knife, make a 2- to 3-inch-deep cut running lengthwise into the meat toward the bones. Open as you would a book and place the marinated prunes in a neat line along the cut. Fold the meat back over. With butcher's twine, tie the meat closed in between each chop Generously season the roast with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400° F.

In a large, ovenproof skillet, melt half of the duck fat (or heat half of the oil) and sear the roast on all sides until nicely browned. Remove the meat. Lower the heat and add the tomatoes, half the onions, half the carrots and half the garlic to the skillet. Sauté for five minutes, until the vegetables are soft but not browned. Add thyme, bay leaf and wine. Using a wooden spoon, stir to deglaze the pan. Simmer for another five minutes while the wine reduces by about half. Add half the veal stock. Set the roast on top of the vegetables and place the skillet in the hot oven for 35 minutes, basting with the liquid every ten minutes. Lower the oven to 375° F and roast the pork for another hour and ten minutes, or until the juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife, or until a meat thermometer reads 145° F. Baste every 15 minutes, and keep adding water to avoid the liquid getting too thick and evaporating. When done, take out of the oven and wrap with aluminum foil to keep warm and rest. Keep the oven on at 375° F.

About a half hour before serving, heat the clarified butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the endives and sauté for about ten minutes until golden on all sides.  Season and remove from the heat. Heat remaining duck fat in an ovenproof skillet and sauté the rest of the carrots and onions and garlic for about five minutes. Place the reserved endives on top of them. Add the remaining veal stock and place in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the endives are cooked.

Remove aluminum-foil covered meat from the skillet and heat the braising liquid for about eight  minutes. Pour through a fine strainer and pour into a gravy boat. Remove the aluminum foil and the twine from the pork, and with a large, sharp knife, cut in between the bones to form individual pork chops with the prunes stuffed in the middle. On a warm platter, place the endives with the vegetables and the pork chops. Spoon a bit of the sauce over each chop and serve with mashed potatoes and the sauce on the side.