This is a love story. One with big hands, fat spoons and where ladles are measured in busty bra sizes. It harkens back to the days when hand hewn tables were made of whole trees and crusty loaves of bread were the size of clouds. One where wine was quaffed, not sipped and swirled, and bellicose laughter could be heard around the dinner table not TV. There were no food temples of hallowed and silent reverence just hunger and many mouths to be fed. While not pretty the lowly lentil has done this job for centuries and so has the pig.
When they finally met it was love at first sight. The kind of love where you see no faults. It is big love where your very nature is to do everything in your power to make the other shine because they are the only light you see. There are no dainty little pieces that sit comfortably on soup spoons never to threaten silk shirts with a trip to the dry cleaners. These are knife, fork, spoon and some crusty bread to sop up any tears of joy left on the plate kind of eats. The Armagnac you ask, well, sometimes the lentils just like to feel a little slutty.
SERVES 4 TO 6
For the drunken pig:
3 or 4 meaty fresh pork hocks, unsmoked and about 4 inches long. The closer to the ham end the better. Really, make sure they are meaty it is where the pork for the dish is coming from
10 ounces unsmoked slab bacon, in one piece
1 leek, trimmed cut in half lengthwise
1 onion quartered
1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
2 celery stalks, rinsed and cut into chunks
1 head of garlic, halved
2 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons whole black pepper corns
pinch of ground cloves
3 parsley sprigs
2 cups dry white wine
1 cinnamon stick 3 inches long
For the fugly lentils:
Meat from the hocks and the bacon
strained stock from above
2 onions, trimmed peeled and cut into quarters
8 carrots, decent sized, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
14 cloves of garlic, peeled, trust me later you will think this isn’t near enough
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon thyme, minced
1 1/4 cup Lentils du Puy
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon armagnac
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, very finely minced
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley minced
1.To make the stock turn the oven to 325 degrees. Place all the stock ingredients into a large enameled cast iron pot with a lid. Make sure it is going to fit comfortably. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil on the stove top and skim any foam that rises.
2. Cover the pot with a lid and place it in the oven. Take a 2 hour and 45 minute break to do what ever you want. I generally play with the kids at this point or run errands or whatever.
3. Make sure the hocks are pull apart tender. If not cook them a little longer. When they are done pull the hocks and bacon and set them on a tray. Strain and drain the stock into a clean bowl, degrease and reserve the broth. Clean out the pot and put it back on the stove over medium high heat.
4. Add a few glugs of olive oil and then toss in the carrots and the onions. Sear them until they begin to take on color.
5. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, tomato sauce, 3 cups of stock and the tomato paste.
6. Season the broth with black pepper and add the lentils. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer them for 40 minutes checking to make sure they aren’t boiling or that the lentils haven’t drank all the broth and adding broth if necessary. Lentil like all beans vary in cooking times depending on age, moisture content etc so times may vary. You want these to be tender but not mush so you will need to give them a taste.
7. Meanwhile make the seasoning sauce. Combine the minced garlic, parsley and red wine vinegar and season it with salt and pepper. Stir in the olive oil.
8. At the end of 40 minutes check to make sure the lentils are tender. If not simmer them another fifteen minutes or so. Stir in the armagnac and add the reserved pork that you picked from the bones and add it to the lentils. Cut the bacon into equal portions and add it too. Season the pot with salt and black pepper and taste. Cover and warm the pork through. Serve with the sauce on the side.