Sunday, August 14, 2005

End of Term 1: Crispy Pork with Fennel and Mustard Lentils

Crispy Pork Belly with Fennel and Mustard Lentils

OK, the whole “learning to cook by being married to a cook and loitering” thing has always been a serious objective for me. Nevertheless I always thought that the teaching staff (Blanca) lacked a certain amount of dedication and conviction… there was never much structure. This weekend that all changed, I’m fearful of the consequences...

Blanca returned from a week in Spain full of fascist fervour. She directly set to assessing how I had coped in the kitchen during her week away. The “Home Alone” series of blogs was used as documented proof of how I had fared. After all these months of love and care, the blog was turned against me.

So, it seems that there was an invisible hand directing most of my efforts over the past few months. The logic was revealed to me yesterday over a morning coffee…

Term 1 (basic), as this period will forever be known, with some of the following "highlights":
- chopping
- pastry
- creaming method
- fish work
- risotto and plant starch

In the end things were ok; I got a B+ for the whole term. I got special praise for my unashamed geekiness and knife skills. My seasoning, lack of comments and annoying questions require improvement. There was no report card or end of term party (apparently Blanca’s school is working on a bit of a shoestring budget)…

We are now entering Term 2 (intermediate), it will be challenging, with the following highlights:
- soufflé
- paella
- French onion soup
- Genoise
- Pasta making
- Choux pastry
- Sauté cut chicken
- French stew

The Term 3 (advanced) syllabus seems to be a little up in the air, but will contain:
- puffed pastry
- beef Wellington

To celebrate the end of term (and relieve a week old pork belly from its misery), we cooked pork belly and mustard lentils today. Fittingly, this earthy recipe comes from the Books for Cooks vol. 6.

For the pork:
1 tbsp fennel seeds
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 kg pork belly in one piece, skin on and scored
1 tbsp salt

For the lentils:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
350 g puy lentils
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

For the salsa:
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves
Olive oil
salt and pepper

Press the fennel and garlic on the flesh side of the pork. Place in a baking tray, skin side up. Dry the scored side and sprinkle salt evenly over the surface. Leave to stand for half an hour.

Heat the oven to 220 C. Roast the pork for half an hour, turn down to 180 C and bake a further hour and a half. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before carving.

Cook the lentil while the pork is in the oven. Warm the oil, add the onion and garlic and stir until the onion has softened (approx 5 mins). Add lentils and cover with boiling water. Put the lid and simmer steadily. Cook for about 50 minutes when the lentils are soft and thick. Add water as it dries out. Stir in mustard and season to taste.

Grind the parsley and garlic in a pestle and mortar. Add the olive oil until it reaches a salsa constituency. Season according to taste.

Plate the lentils and lay over strips of pork, topped by parsley salsa.

See you next term…

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1 comment:

Dazy said...

I'm making this for dinner tonight. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!