TBP – This episode was a bit of a nothing episode. Notice that there was no Joffery though, a plus, but it also meant they didn’t include any boobs to balance the Joffery out. I still enjoyed it though, just not as much as previous episodes.
Poking around on Food 52 the other day, I ran accross a recipe for ‘Fugly Lentils and Drunken Pig’ and was entranced by the mental image of the idealistic world where tables are made from whole trees, and wine is quaffed, not sipped. It sounded like something GRRM would dream up, albeit with more murders. Unfortunately I don’t know anywhere I can get Plantagenet Pork hocks, and I typically don’t have three hours to boil them for stock before we even get started. This recipe is inspired by that ethos and the magic combination of pork and lentils, but it is definitely the lazy version.
Crusty fresh bread, chicken and cognac pate (not even slightly ethical, which is why I was offloading it), blue cheese and free range salame from Smoult’s Continental Deli to tide us over
Pork and Lentil Stew
Pork and Lentil Stew
Pork shoulder roast
optional – ground bay leaf, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, thyme powder, sage powder
2c Puy lentils
Soup vegetables – turnip, swede, onions, celery, carrots and parsnip, adjusting the quantities to suit your tastes. We grabbed a pre-assembled soup pack because I was feeling lazy, and parsnips are still $10/kg at my IGA which I think is daylight robbery and a soup pack made good financial sense.
1.5 Bottles of white wine
500ml Chicken stock by the Stock Merchant
oil for frying
I bought the shoulder roast pre-seasoned from my butcher, who used a mix of salt, pepper, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and sage. It added a lot of easy flavour to this dish, which you could do at home by rubbing the meat with a home-made version and leaving in the fridge overnight to marinate. Shoulder roasts will normally come rolled up with some bonus crackling, which once you’ve cut the butchers twine off, you can normally just roll off and put aside for later.
Pre-heat the oven to 180c.
I was aiming for the meat to break into large, tender chunks. What we got was more threads of pork strewn through a lentil stew, but I suspect that was mostly because I got a bit vigorous with my stirring. Either way, you want to leave the meat in pieces big enough to give them a fighting chance of staying together, but small enough to cook all the way through. Falling apart rather than fallen apart. Once my shoulder piece was unrolled, I cut it into four sections about 5cm by 5cm and the length of the roast. I then scored them fairly deeply to help get the heat and the liquid into the centre of the pieces. I browned them in a heavy-based, ovenproof saucepan, while I chopped the vegetables into rough dice.
Once the meat is browned, put it aside and fry the vegetables until they get a bit of colour and just start to soften. Add the meat back to the pan, and pour the wine and stock over the top. Top up with water if needed to make sure everything is submerged.
Bring the pot to the boil then cover and place in the oven. Cook for about two hours, checking periodically to see how tender the meat has become. To cook the lentils, either return the pot to the stove and boil for ~30 minutes, or add the lentils and leave in the oven for about an hour.
We crisped up the crackling by salting it and putting it in a hot oven. Wet skin (like if your shoulder roast was wrapped up with a marinade, woops) tends to crackle poorly if you don’t have time to dry it out properly. Ours was my first dud batch in ages, which was a bit of a downer, but it was still fun to dunk in the stew.
Warning: chesnuts can be deadly. They can be cooked in the oven, a skillet, on coals, or boiled, but no matter which way you cook them, you need to cut a slit into the outer skin (and preferably inner too, to make them easier to peel) otherwise they explode. Sometimes they explode anyway, even when you cut a slit in not only the chestnuts but also your finger. I have cooked them successfully a number of times though, and I can’t rule out that the sheer power of TBP’s oven was to blame. Nevertheless, chestnut at your peril.