Cook the onions:
In a small skillet, combine the onions, 1/4 cup water, butter, and sugar; bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until the water evaporates and the onions are just tender; about 5 minutes. Cook uncovered over low heat until the onions are well browned, about 8 minutes. Set aside, uncovered.
Start the stew:
Toss the pork with the olive oil, cinnamon, pepper, rosemary, and thyme. In a heavy, 5-qt. Dutch oven, brown the pork over medium heat for about 5 minutes, adding no fat to the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and sauté, stirring frequently, until any moisture has evaporated and the pork is thoroughly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the pork to a bowl. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chopped onion to the remaining pan juices. Cook until the onion is soft and starting to brown, about 6 minutes, and then add it to the reserved pork.
Add the vinegar, mustard, and 1/2 cup of the wine to the pot. Heat to boiling, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Reduce to a glaze. Add another 1/2 cup wine; again, reduce it to a glaze. Repeat with the last 1/2 cup wine. Add the garlic, carrots, and bay leaf to the pot. Return the pork, onions, and any accumulated juices to the pot, season with salt, and add the stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat. Simmer gently until barely tender, 45 to 55 minutes.
Meanwhile, start the polenta:
Heat the oven to 350°F. In an oiled 3-qt. nonstick ovenproof skillet, combine the cornmeal, water, and salt. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. Stir the polenta, taste, add salt if needed, and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the polenta rest in the pan for 5 minutes before pouring it onto a serving platter.
Finish the stew:
After 45 minutes of simmering, add the prunes and glazed onions to the meat. Continue cooking, uncovered, until the pork is very tender and the stew is thickened (about another 15 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove the pot from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and adjust the seasonings. Set aside until the polenta is ready. If necessary, gently reheat the stew to bubbling and serve on top of the hot polenta, sprinkled with chopped parsley.
nutrition information (per serving):
Photo: Daniel Proctor