Cook the Book: Clay-Pot Ginger Pork with Figs and Pickled Fennel Recipe

Cook the Book: Clay-Pot Ginger Pork with Figs and Pickled Fennel Recipe

It's a little late today, but I guess I wanted to wait a bit before parting with The Breakaway Cook for the week. It's a little chilly, windy, and rainy today as I'm writing this so Clay-Pot Ginger Pork with Figs and Pickled Fennel looked like just the antidote. As the book's author, Eric Gower, notes, this recipe takes little in the way of assembly but it does need about two hours to cook—it's a good weekend dish for that reason.

  • Yield:8 generously


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 cup minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 pounds pork butt (also called pork shoulder), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Liberal dusting of kosher salt
  • Liberal dusting of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Ume-Pickled Fennel Juice (recipe follows) or umeshu (plum wine)
  • 10 dried figs (such as Mission figs), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot juice
  • Several tablespoons Ume-Pickled Fennel (recipe follows), for garnish
  • 1 cup umeshu (plum wine)
  • 5 meaty umeboshi, pitted and roughly chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom or other honey
  • 1 large fennel bulb, stalks removed, sliced as thinly as possible (about 3 cups)


  1. 1.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large clay pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and ginger; cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the pork, salt, and pepper; stir, and cook for 10 minutes more.

  2. 2.

    Add the plum wine and figs, bring to a boil, mix thoroughly, cover, and roast for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and, using a wooden spoon or a spatula, break apart the pork chunks a bit. Add the carrot juice; return to oven for 30 minutes more. Taste and adjust the salt. Serve from the clay pot or transfer to warm individual plates; garnish with a mound of pickled fennel.

  3. 3.

    Ume-Pickled Fennel

  4. 4.

    - makes 3 cups fennel and 2 cups pickling liquid -

  5. 5.

    Combine the wine, pickled plums, vinegar, and honey in a blender; purée. Place the fennel slices in a large bowl, pour in the liquid, and cover tightly. You can eat it right away, but the flavors only get better after a few days in the fridge. Keeps for several months.

  6. 6.

    Photograph courtesy of William Morrow