Tony Maws’ delicious combination of lentils and bacon, both braised to perfection, is the perfect meal to serve at the dawn of 2013. Lentils, and legumes in general, and pork are both considered lucky, implying good fortune, financial success and progress in the coming year, making them the traditional New Year’s Day meal in many cultures. This year, braise up a batch for yourself and see if you feel any luckier. Your guests surely will. And considering that this big meal will keep for four to five days in your refrigerator, you probably will too. After all, who doesn’t feel better when they have delicious leftovers waiting for them at home?
- 1 carrot, diced small
- 1 large onion
- 1 stalk celery, diced small
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 pound bacon, diced small
- 1 sachet of thyme, parsley & bay leaf
- 1/2 pound Puy lentils or French green lentils
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 5 pounds whole slab bacon, preferably with the rind on
- 3 carrots, diced large
- 2 large onions, diced large
- 2 stalks celery, diced large
- 1/2 head garlic, crushed
- 1 inch ginger, sliced and smashed
- sachet of parsley, thyme & bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 2 whole cloves
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup Armagnac
- 6 cups good quality chicken stock, preferably homemade
- butter for cooking
- Check through the lentils to sort out any small pebbles.
- Place the picked-over lentils in a saucepot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from the burner. Run cold tap water over the lentils until the water runs clear. Strain the remaining water.
- Sweat the carrots, onion, celery, bacon and garlic in a heavy saucepan until the vegetables begin to release their moisture and become tender.
- Add the lentils and chicken stock to the vegetables and bacon, and add water to cover the lentils by one inch. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook the lentils over medium heat until the lentils are tender. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
- You may add butter and/or Dijon mustard to the finished lentils for a bit more dimension.
- These will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- In a heavy braising pan, sweat the vegetables and spices in a little butter until they begin to release their moisture and begin to soften. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and Armagnac. Place the bacon on top of the vegetables and add the stock. Heat to a strong simmer.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid or aluminium foil and place into the preheated oven. Cook until fork tender, approximately 2 1/2 hours.
- Remove the bacon from the pot and strain the braising liquid into a saucepan. Reduce the liquid by a third and pour back over the bacon.
- Also, after the bacon has cooled you may slice it and sear in a pan for additional flavor.