Brined Pork Roast With Lentils


1 pound boneless pork shoulder roast, 4
4 quarts of water
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 teaspoons juniper berries
2 teaspoons peppercorns
3 1/2 cups kosher salt
cup sugar
Bouquet garni:
kitchen twine or 2 long, strong chive blades
2 cups lentils
1 large onion studded with 4 whole cloves
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


At least a day ahead (and this can be done up to a week ahead), prepare the brine. Combine the water, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, garlic, juniper berries, peppercorns and cloves in a large saucepan. Stir in the sugar and salt and heat over medium high heat, stirring, until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved. When dissolved remove the brine from the heat and allow to cool completely.
Place the pork in a large zip lock bag and pour the cool brine mixture into the bag. Shake it around a little so the roast is surrounded with brine. Place it in a large bowl (just in case there is any leaking), and into the refrigerator and let culinary chemistry do its magic!! The pork should brine for at least 12 hours, and can brine for up to 3 days.
On supper day, remove the pork from the brine. If you have brined for 24 hours or less, rinse the roast and soak it in cold water for about ½ an hour. If it has been brined longer, soak it for an hour.
Brush off any bits of herbs and spices and place the pork in large, deep saucepan. Cover the pork with water and slowly bring it to a boil. Allow the pan to simmer for 10 minutes. If the pork has been brined for more than 3 days, simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove the pork, pour out the water and rinse out the pan. Return the pork to the pan, and cover with cool water again. Bring the water to a boiling point, then reduce heat so the water is at a gentle simmer. Simmer for 3 hours, adding more water if needed to keep the pork covered. It is important to simmer, not boil, the roast.
To make the bouquet garni: Make a sweet little bouquet of a bay leaf, parsley and thyme sprigs. If you have some longer, tougher blades of chives about, the bouquet can be tied up with that. Otherwise, use kitchen twine. You may want to make an extra herbal bouquet for garnish of the finished dish at the same time, keep it in a glass of water until needed.
Pour the lentils onto a white surface and finger through them to sort out any undesirable bits. After the pork has cooked for 3 hours, pour the lentils into the pan with the pork. Stud the onion with the remaining 4 cloves. Place the onion, garlic and bouquet garni in the water around the pork. Continue to simmer for another hour.
At this point the pork should be tender, and the meat should easily tear away with a fork. Transfer the pork to a carving board, cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Remove the bouquet garni and onions. Discard the bouquet garni and the cloves from the onion. Chop up the onion and stir it into the lentils. The lentils should be tender. The mix should be thick and soupy. Salt and pepper lentils to taste.
Pour the lentils into a shallow serving dish (or leave them in the pan if you’re feeling rustic and lazy-lady-like). Remove strings from pork. Using 2 forks (and maybe a knife) tear away morsels of tender pork. Pile it in the center of the lentils. Sprinkle generously with chopped parsley. Plunge your little fresh bouquet of herbs into the middle of the dish and serve.




This dish reminds us of meals in the Norman region in France. Finish the meal with a Tarte Tatin and a glass of Calvados. Close your eyes and you'll feel you're in Honfleur. A Votre Sante!




Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 10:50am


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