Porcini Mushroom and Pork Ragout
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/2 C. hot water
1/4 lb. bacon, cut into 1-inch dice
3 T. olive oil
2 lbs. boneless pork loin, cut into 2-inch dice
1 C. chopped onion
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground white pepper
1/2 C. chicken broth
1/2 C. reserved mushroom liquid
1/3 C. balsamic vinegar
1 C. half-and-half
In a medium bowl, cover the mushrooms with the hot water and set aside to soak for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and fry until crisp. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels; set aside.
Remove all but 1 tablespoon of drippings from the pot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the bacon drippings, increase the heat to high, add the pork and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer the pork and any juices to a dish; set aside.
Place a coffee filter or a piece of cheesecloth in a strainer. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Gently squeeze the mushrooms to remove any remaining moisture, blot with paper towels and coarsely chop. Set aside.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil along with the onion and garlic to the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and saute for 5 minutes. Be careful not to brown the garlic. Add the thyme, salt and pepper and saute for 1 minute. Add the stock or broth, 1/2 cup of the reserved strained mushroom-soaking liquid and the vinegar. Add the reserved pork (with accumulated juices), bacon and mushrooms, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and gently simmer for 1 hour and 45 minutes, until the meat is very tender.
In a small bowl, gradually add 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to the half-and-half. Transfer the mixture to the pot and cook just until heated through, about 5 minutes.