Friday, April 30, 2010

Help Has Arrived

After we had agreed to purchase our quarter share of a pig, my husband consulted with a colleague experienced in butchering to figure out how we'd like Harry Ludlow to carve up the meat. In addition to roasts, chops, and bacon, she suggested that we request "as much salt pork as possible." In the middle of the process, Harry called my husband to ask, "Do you really want as much salt pork as possible?" Thinking about it, we guessed that we didn't. Still, we wound up with more salt pork than we really knew what to do with. Thankfully, help was on the way. A kind friend at Wiley who had seen the picture of my freezer sent me a copy of James Villas' recent book, Pig: King of the Southern Table. I will probably have to invest in a second pig, to cook through all of the interesting-sounding recipes in this book that call for salt pork, including Salt Pork and Chicken Liver Spread, Cracklin' Pork Burgers (with ground pork, crisped salt pork, garlic Worcestershire sauce, and bread crumbs--yum!), and the one that caught my eye last night, Piggy Spoon Bread. Mr. Villas recommends serving this pudding-like bread with greens or black-eyed peas, but I thought it would go well with my kale and lentils. You'll have to buy a copy of Pig for yourself if you want the spoonbread recipe, but I'm happy to give you my recipe for lentils and kale:

French Lentils and Kale
Serves 4

The lentils will take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes to cook, depending on how old they are. Mine, from Citarella's, had been sitting in the pantry for quite a while, so they took just as long as the onions to cook. Brown lentils may be substituted, but the dish won't be the same.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
Ground black pepper
1/2 cup French lentils
2 1/2 cups water
12 ounces baby kale (One bag from Bette and Dale's--if you are using mature kale, you'll have to strip the leaves from the tough stems)

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally until they are golden and just beginning to brown, about 25 minutes.
2. While the onions are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the kale and cook until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and coarsely chop.
3. Combine the lentils, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer until the lentils are cooked but not falling apart and most of the water has been absorbed.
4. Stir the kale and lentils into the onions. Cook over medium heat until warm, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

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