I had my eye on this recipe from David Tanis’ One Good Dish since I picked it up in the store (and bought it immediately – the book fit the “how we really eat” category perfectly and we love it). The photo of this dish in the book is so inviting – perfect winter comfort food – but the instructions included taking pork belly/slab bacon, a chunk 2 inches wide, and boiling it, which would leave the fat parts …. fatty, rather than crisp, which I thought I wouldn’t like. I remember one time having roast lamb without the fat cut off, which normally I would have rejected – but it was dinner at our B&B after a day roaming in the fog and the cold on Dartmoor, and I’ve never had a meal I appreciated more!
I see this blog has the entire recipe, including the original, irresistible photograph from One Good Dish. Turns out the Calgary Herald had a review of the book, and the recipe, by Gwendolyn Richards, and she wasn’t enthralled by the boiled bacon fat either. But loved the book.
So I thought maybe I could make the recipe with smoked ham instead of the bacon or pork belly, but eventually D and I decided to make it the original way – always the right thing to do with a new recipe. I didn’t love the fat parts, but that was minor. The dish overall was superb. (Indeed, D bought a 1lb slab of bacon, and I cut off the parts with largest fat inclusions to use for fried bacon bits.)
This was complicated, in the sense that several threads had to come together, but worth the effort in the long run. A 2″ wide slab of pork belly or smoked bacon (we used the latter) is boiled with half an onion, a carrot, and a couple thyme stems, for 45 or more minutes, left in the liquid to keep warm (keep the stock!), then sliced 1/4 inch thick just before serving. 1 lb small potatoes (we used fingerlings) are boiled till done in well-salted water. 1 cup French green lentils are boiled 1 1/2 – 2 hours in 4 cups water, with a half a bay leaf, a couple of thyme stems, and the other half of the onion, and a bit of salt. I used 1/4 tsp “gros” salt, which was too little. D put the onion and bay leaf from the lentils into the bacon stock instead of tossing them.[I notice I forgot to put a clove in each onion half.]
A vinaigrette – very thick – is made with red wine vinegar – 1 T – macerating for five minutes a large shallot, finely diced, to which is added (from memory) a Tbsp Dijon mustard, two garlic cloves that have been mashed to a paste with salt (I used 1/2 tsp “gros”) then 1/4 cup olive oil is whisked in. Capers and cornichons are finely diced and added, and right before serving, 1/2 cup chopped parsley and some scallions are added. The cooked lentils are dressed with half of the vinaigrette, plated, and topped with the sliced bacon, then potatoes, and the dressing poured over all. Finally, a bit of parsley and scallions are added for garnish. We had a bit more of the Morell’s multi-grain loaf to go with this.
D chose a Bordeaux – Chateau Laroque (2010) that was recommended by David at The Wine Mine as an import by someone whose taste is similar to that of Eric Stauffenegger, one of our favorite importers. It wanted breathing, so we put it into our rolly decanter, and it opened up nicely.