Thursday, October 25, 2012

Smoked Chops and Lentils

One pot wonders; I keep returning to this type of food over and over again.

My youngest daughter, perhaps in an attempt to break my food-loving heart, has proven to be very, um, 'selective' with what she chooses to eat. My eldest daughter went through this stage as well, yet once she hit five years old, all my cooking became her 'favourite', including the weird stuff. Her plate is clean most every night. In fact, my eldest has become a bit of the cook herself, helping daddy as sous chef. Nevertheless, my kitchen is not a restaurant (yet), so I'm not cooking things to order for fussy children. Because of my refusal to bend on this issue, there are several nights a week in which the little one will listlessly push the food around her plate and mope. Or worse, she'll attempt to derail the entire dining experience for the rest of us. Tantrums are not uncommon. Thankfully, the calming effect of a fine wine and my wife's good sense and demeanor help temper my aggravation. I have to keep telling myself that it will pay off in the end, much the way it has with my older daughter. Keep on fighting that good fight. 

Either way, there are some things that she will eat. Fish being one of them; much to my great pleasure. The other is lentils. I know plenty of ADULTS who won't eat these, so I'm pretty tickled when miss fussy-pants tucks into this most healthy and humble of ingredients. In an effort to make things even more tempting for her, I pull out the big guns: smoked pork chops. I have blogged about these several times in the past. They are just that good. Smokey, salty and rich. They are available at Sanagan's Meat Locker in Kensington Market. They are not cheap - working out to be a good fiver per chop, however, two are enough for our family of four - you don't want to gorge on these. They must be savoured and always accompanied by modest and earthy things like steamed spuds, or this case, lentils du puy.

Back to the 'one pot' idea. This dish is a matter of browning the chops and putting them aside. Then sweating down a mirapoix, adding your lentils along with the appropriate measure of seasoned water ( I have no idea what the ratio is - I simply pour in enough water to cover the lentils by about an inch - it works everytime). Of course, bay leaves are essential. The lentils take about 25-30 minutes bubbling away in the pot. For the last five minutes, simply lay your browned chops on top of the lentils and let it finish cooking through. Dump the works out on to a platter and serve hot with a bit of crusty, buttered bread.

Despite wiggling in her chair incessantly and talking with her mouth full, the little one cleaned her plate; which really was the goal after all.


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