This dish celebrates the not quite meat, not quite fat, quality of pork belly. There’s nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves.
I had thought that nothing was going to surpass the affection I felt for the Duck Legs And Carrots recipe I made a few weeks back. It was the first thing I had made from Mr. Henderson’s cookbook, and–sentimental feelings aside–it was damn tasty. I felt like the king of the world when those lovely duck legs were placed in front of guests, me knowing that the diner was about to be wowed.
Boiled pork belly has managed a coup d’état for my heart, and won handily.
Last week I made the sister to this dish, and the allure of cooking with lentils again beckoned to me. I do apologize if you have a small bout of déjà vu because of it. However, I am very, very happy to report that this time the lentils were even better than last. I can be taught!
The pork belly brined for more than a week in my container, Bertie. I flipped the meat over halfway through the brining process to ensure that it would properly season on both sides.
Into the pot went to pork belly with leeks, celery, carrots, garlic, onions studded with cloves, some peppercorns and a bouquet garni. Water was added until everything was covered. This was brought to a boil, and then simmered for a couple of hours.
The lentils were cooked exactly the same as the last update, except I added another 20 minutes of cooking thanks to my wife’s boss, Ken Seeber, the gourmet manager at Grapevine Market in Round Rock, Texas. He was our guest for the evening and his experience and knowledge really helped make the lentils fantastic this go around.
Once the allotted time for the pork belly’s cooking had expired, I foolishly tried to pull it out of the water with tongs. After such a lengthy period in the simmering water, the fat and skin had turned to barely solid state. The tongs ripped right through the flesh, with chunks falling off here and there. I thankfully managed to rub two brain cells together and fished the belly out with my spider. It was damaged, but slicing would thankfully hide that fact.
Belly and lentils plated.
Now, I could go on and on about how amazing the fat tasted when it hit your tongue, or how it melted almost in an instant when you began to chew, leaving an incredible mouth feel. I might be inclined to fawn over the creamy and delicious nature of the lentils thanks to Mr. Seeber’s gentile guidance. I’m not going to do either though. What I will be doing is this:
If you have even the slightest curiosity about how this meal might have tasted, I beg of you to go and buy the cookbook and get yourself to the closest Asian market. Buy the pork belly and the lentils and everything else you need and make this as soon as possible. Share it with someone you know will be receptive to eating food a little out of the ordinary, and then enjoy yourselves. It’s really that good.
One down, one hundred and twenty nine to go.