Thursday, October 18, 2012

shoulder pork chops with lentils

The sky is grey , birds are flocking together to go South, there is a chill in the air . the fall is here . And with it the desire for comfort rich food. I lived in Normandy when I was a teenager and the weather was often cold so we ate a lot of cold weather food : Pot aux feu, cassoulet,boeuf en daube,and quite a few dishes cooked in white rich sauce. Now with the weather being colder I am getting away from the Mediterranean cooking and turning too the cooking of Normandy. I crave for
" palette de porc with lentilles" ( lentils cooked in salted pork shoulder) that mamie used to make.
" Palette de porc with lentilles" is a very old regional french dish from Auvergne which is situated in the center of France. The salt pork is  soaked in water for a while and then cooked about 3 hours .  I will use shoulder pork chops so it will not take so long
It is not easy to find a salted pork shoulder I could not find any in" Bilo" or the "Pig"I will have to ask the butcher in Piggly wiggly he is always happy to help. May be next time I will be able to make the dish the traditional way. But for now I decided to improvise and cook something very close. I used shoulder pork chops but to give it more taste I added some salted cured ham. The result ended pretty close to my mother dish and it is delicious.

The recipe


4 shoulder pork chops
1 package salted pork or cured ham
5 small carrots
1/2 cup leak  ( or 1/2 an onion)
1/2 cup celery
2 whole cloves
1/2 tsp peppercorns ( or pepper)
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups of lentils
1 small branch of fresh thyme
1 cup white wine
1cup chicken stock


Saute the salt pork in a large pan. put aside
Add 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan
Saute the pork chops in the same pan. Put aside .

Clean and chopped the vegetables
brown them in the same pan till soft.

deglaze the pan with the wine
put the salt pork and pork chops in the pan
add the lentils
Add the chicken stock . It should cover the pork chops and lentils.
Add salt and pepper as needed
Add the bay leave and the cloves
Cook in 400 F for about 40 minutes or till the lentils are cooked.
The lentils cook slowly in the pork juice and it is delicious and most comforting


You may have a good country or french bread too soak  in  the sauce.
The fresh thyme may be replaced by dry thyme. about 1 tsp.
It is sad to drink sweet tea with such a hearty dish a nice beer or a glass of wine will be a lot better.
It is not a good idea to use lean, expensive, pork chops without the bone. the fat and the bones add a very good taste to the lentil soup.

Eat well ,drink well and be merry!