Few days ago I got an email from my sister, Bonnie, about hibernation. She is doing a series of blog posts about what people would wear or drink or eat or whatever to prep for cold wintry weather. Obviously my mind drifted towards food and thought what I would eat in preparation of going into hibernation or what I would eat for days if I get trapped in a snow storm. The answer was quite simple, a pork belly stew!
This time around, I decided not to follow any recipes and basically go with my guts (or natural talent at throwing a bunch of stuff together and stick it in the oven?). I thought what would go well with pork belly in a stew-y situation? Here’s what I came up with…
Ever since I learned how to make lentil soup, there would always be a container of green lentils in the kitchen. It’s such an easy thing to make. I’ve always wanted to try making lentils in the oven instead of on the stove. So I decided to combine lentils with the pork belly stew. Also I had a bunch of kale leftover from few nights ago (I made kale and beans with rigatoni) so I thought it would give the stew some nice fresh greens.
1lb pork belly (cut into 1 inch cubes or close to)
2 carrots (roughly chopped)
1 onion (roughly chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (sliced and diced)
Thyme (a bunch)
3/4 cup lentils (I used red lentils)
A big handful of kale minus the stalks
1 tablespoon of flour
Salt & pepper
Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees
Get a Dutch oven nice and hot over the stove. Brown the pieces of pork belly in the Dutch oven, do in batches if needed. When the pieces are all nice and brown, remove them and place on a plate while you cook the veggies.
Using the fat from the pork belly, throw the chopped carrots into the pot. Cook for a minute or 2 then add the onions.
Give the mixture a nice mix. Cook till the onions start to be translucent and add the garlic. Cook that for few minutes or till you start smelling the garlic.
Using a kitchen string, tie about 6 or 7 sprigs of thyme together and add to the pot. Stir the veggies around and add the pork belly, plus any juices, back into the pot.
Season the mixture with salt, about a teaspoon, and pepper, stir.
Add about a wine glass of beer, something strong like a stout or porter. I used Keegan Ales’ Mother’s Milk Stout (I got it at Eastern District). Then fill the pot with water or stock, I used veggie stock, barely covering the stuff.
Bring to a boil and simmer for about a minute, turn the heat off, cover and put it in the oven for about 1.5hrs or until the pork is tender.
About 30mins into the 1.5hrs of cooking, sprinkle the lentils into the pot. Give it a good stir to mix in the lentils. Cover the pot and let it finish cooking in the oven. When the stew is done, add the kale and mix it in.
*Optional: Stir in a dollop of creme fraiche right before serving.
Dig in! Eat it with a nice crusty bread, good for mopping up the sauce. I also roasted some potatoes and parsnip to go along with the dish.