If you’re thinking that the title of this dish is topsy-turvy, you haven’t tasted lentils like these. I hadn’t either, and if I had, I probably would have tripled the recipe. It’s *that* good. I had been looking for a good recipe for French Lentils for a while, and this is probably going to become my staple. Even Adi, the ever-skeptical gourmet demanded “we make this again soon,” which, is like, crazy. I remembered seeing this recipe on food tv’s The Main, and it sounded as a good idea at the time. I decided to test it out, but also tweak it just a bit. A very tiny little bit.
I thought I was making the pork tenderloin as a main and I needed a side, but, when it came to eating, the ensemble turned onto its head. Proof: we’ve still got leftover tenderloin, but there were barely any lentils left. And the recipe yields a lot of them, when it comes for just two people eating dinner. And they’re not even difficult to make. The whole thing – I mean both the lentils and the meat – takes about one hour from start to finish. First you boil the lentils with the French trinity of mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery), and then you braise them after rendering some bacon. Yes, that’s the secret: bacon. Isn’t bacon always the secred, though?
Mmmmmmm, I’d better make these lentils again soon, and in mounds, piles, and… I’m out of synonyms. The pork tenderloin itself was good, too, and really easy to make. It just paled in comparison. If you want this meat to shine, either wrap it in bacon. (I know I’m repeating myself) or serve it with mashed potatoes. I loved it, though, and the sauce is a must. So, if you’re looking for a less ordinary dinner that’s not too hard to make and is also healthy (lentils are highly nurtritious, and you don’t get much leaner a protein than pork tenderloin), be sure to give this a try.
And now for the recipes:
Braised French Lentils – adapted from The Main
- 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 small onion
- 1 small stalk celery
- 1 small carrot
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups chicken stock or water
* 1 tsp vegatable oil
* 4 slices bacon, diced
* 1/4 cup finely diced carrot, about .5 piece
* 1/3 cup finely diced onion, about .5 small
* 1 clove garlic, finely minced
* 1/4 cup white wine
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 1/4 cup chopped parsley
What to do:
1. Combine lentils, onion, celery, carrot, and bay leaves in a medium saucepot.
2. Add 2 cups of chicken stock or water. Simmer, uncovered until lentils are cooked and liquid has mostly evaporated, about 20-25min. Season with salt and pepper.
1. Heat vegetable oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon pieces and cook until slightly crispy. Very important: discard all but 1 Tbsp. of grease.
2. Add carrots, onion, leek, and garlic and gently sweat for a few minutes.
3. Add wine to deglaze, scraping any crispy brown bits.
4. Add chicken stock and lentils; bring to simmer and reduce until liquid reaches a light sauce consistency.
5. To finish, gently stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Pepper Pork Tenderloin – taken from The Brooklyn Farmhouse
One 1-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of any extra fat and silverskin (the silvery looking tendon-y stuff)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon very coarsely ground black pepper (grind in a pepper grinder or use a meat mallet or small skillet to crack whole peppercorns)
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed with the side of your knife
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons chicken stock or water
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 400º.
2. Season the pork with the salt and the peppercorns, pressing the peppercorns lightly into the meat, if necessary, to adhere.
3. In a medium saucepan with an oven-proof handle, add the olive oil and garlic and heat on medium-high until the garlic is just golden, turning the garlic occasionally, 1-2 minutes. Remove and discard garlic clove.
4. Turn the heat up to high. Add the pork tenderloin and sear on all sides, about 5 minutes per side, or until the entire tenderloin is evenly browned.
5. Put the entire pan (with pork) into the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 150ºF. Carefully turn the pork once during cooking.
6. Very carefully, remove the pan from the oven (remember that the handle will be very, very hot). Remove the pork to a plate or cutting board and cover with foil. Let rest for 10-15 minutes.
7. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of fat remaining in the pan. Carefully place the pan over high heat (do not clean pan) and add the chicken stock or water. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan. Let the mixture boil until reduced slightly (a little less than 5 minutes).
8. Add the optional tablespoon butter and, using a whisk, swirl around in pan until it has melted into the sauce.
9. Taste the pan jus and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
10. Uncover the pork, slice, and serve with pan jus.