Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pork Chops & Lentils

I saw a recipe in Food & Wine for wine-braised lentils that looked great, but it involved buying a lot of things I didn't already have, and I knew I wouldn't get much use out of them after this recipe. So I took the general idea, but changed it up. I also made pork chops with herbed mustard and cornbread crumbs. My mom makes a pork tenderloin recipe with cornbread crumbs, but I didn't have the recipe and there were no pork tenderloins at the store so I had to improvise.

1 cup lentils
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 big celery stalk, chopped
1 bay leaf
3-4 Tbl chopped pancetta
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 Tbl. mascarpone cheese, or creme fraiche
a couple handfulls of arugula or baby spinach
salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan heat the lentils, onion, celery, and bay leaf and enough water so that it's about an inch above all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat down to a strong simmer. Cook uncovered for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the lentils equally soak up the water. Feel free to add more water if it's getting dry, but make sure to drain the excess before the next step.

In a large skillet cook the pancetta until cooked through but not crispy. Add the lentil mixture to the pan, then add the red wine, chicken stock, and mascarpone. Stir to incorporate all the ingredients and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or long enough for the wine to reduce, and for the lentils to soak up most of the liquid. Add the arugula and cook just long enough for it to wilt, only a couple minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

You can really add whatever you want to this dish. You could put leeks into the first step, you could add parsley and cilantro to the skillet (that's what the original recipe called for), or you could use white wine instead of red. I used French green lentils, but you could use regular green lentils, or even red ones. Whatever sounds good!

1 lb. center cut pork chops
salt and pepper
3-4 Tbl. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup cornbread crumbs

Turn the broiler on to high. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops. Cover each side in a layer of mustard. Cook under the broiler for about 8 minutes (time varies depending on thickness of the chops). Take the pan out of the oven and flip over the pork chops, then add cornbread crumbs to the top of each piece. Cook for another 8 minutes or so. Test with a meat thermometer - it should read 150 degrees to know that they're done. If they're not done at this point, put them back in the oven but not under the broiler because the cornbread will start to burn (just bake at about 350 or 400 degrees for another few minutes). Voila!

I had an herbed Dijon mustard that I used (you can see the green color), but you could also sprinkle some fresh thyme along with the salt and pepper. Or not...mustard has a lot of flavor so it won't be lacking anything without the herbs. For the cornbread, I just bought a piece from the soup section at Whole Foods instead of making my own. So easy!

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