This celebrates the not quite meat, not quite fat, quality of pork belly.
For the boiled belly
2kg piece of pork belly, with skin and bones on, which has been in brine for 10 days, rinsed
2 whole carrots, peeled
2 onions, peeled and stuck with 8 cloves
2 leeks, whole and cleaned
2 sticks of celery
2 whole heads of garlic
A bunch of fresh herbs and whole black peppercorns
For the lentils
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped into thin slices
1 leek, cleaned and chopped into thin slices
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely
2 carrots, peeled and chopped in half, then into 5mm-thick slices
500g Puy lentils
Bundle of thyme and parsley; a big handful of chopped curly parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the pork belly into a pan with all the other ingredients, and cover with water. Bring to the boil, skim, and reduce to a very gentle simmer, with the water barely moving, for 3.5hrs, until the flesh is soft and giving, but not collapsing. Remove from the water, slice, and serve with lentils and mustard.
For the lentils, cover the bottom of a largish pan with olive oil, and sweat your chopped vegetables. At the moment they are only just starting to soften, not colouring, add the lentils. Stir these for a couple of minutes in the oil and vegetables, then cover with water and nestle in the thyme and parsley bundle. Simmer and stir occasionally – you want the lentils soft but not squidgy. This should take 40min. You can add more water.
Now season. It is amazing what simple salt and pepper do to the flavour of lentils. Just before serving, stir in chopped parsley and a healthy splash of extra-virgin olive oil.
From Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking by Fergus Henderson (Macmillan)Reuse content