Those of you who follow my blog know that I love simplicity in the kitchen. It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good fussy recipe from time to time or have times when I spend the whole day (9 am to 8 pm) in the kitchen in absolute bliss, but I think of those as the exception not the rule. The less chopping and stirring the better.
Enter cheap cuts of meats. I love inexpensive cuts of meat because they require long cooking times at moderate temperatures with little to no supervision. The price tag doesn’t hurt either. Now I am certain that you could do this in a crock pot if you have one, but I love using my bright orange Le Creuset pot. Set the ingredients to go in the morning and come home to a home cooked meal with the house smelling amazing.
My crock pot was about 30 years old and kicked the bucket a few years ago. Luckily a few days short of a looming electrical fire, which I’m sure would have been inevitable if I had held onto it much longer. I chose to do this meal in the oven, in a Le Creuset (thank you to my sisters for the bestest gift in the whole world) and it took 2 and a half hours, but only 10 minutes of actually hands on work. The only thing you may want to add to this meal is a nice piece of crusty bread to soak up the lovely sauce.
I do have an ulterior motive when cooking this way. These slow cooking meals are a great opportunity for me to sneak in my favorite pulse or legume. In this case it’s the Puy lentil. It’s a slow burning carb, PACKED with nutrients, that keep you feeling full longer and prevents blood sugar spikes. Here’s a few more ideas for this power house food.
I also like that I could repeat this recipe several times over with a different result just by making a few ingredient changes. For example, change the pork to beef and you’ll heed an equally delicious meal with a completely different flavor. Another very simple change would be to change the vegetables. I chose carrots and parsnips because that’s what I needed to use up. However, if I got you interested in cooking with more beets in my last post, than they would bring a sweetness and a color unmatched by any other vegetable.
Here are a few suggestions so that you can make this at home with whatever you might have in your fridge. Try it with cubed squash and apples, mushrooms and potatoes, or yams and turnips. I haven’t even started substituting out the lentils for beans, but you could do that as well. With all the varieties of legumes out there, the possibilities are endless. If you are substituting beans for lentils, you’ll want to follow the instructions that I’ll include in the notes at the bottom of this post.
Why You Should Make This Dish
So the reasons I love this dish in point form:
- 1. One pot cooking
- 2. 10 minutes hands on cooking
- 3. Endless substitution possibilities
- 4. It includes a healthy bean or legume
Roasted Pork Shoulder with Puy Lentils and Root Vegetables
- 2 lb pork shoulder roast
- Rub: 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground pepper, 1 tsp paprika (type of your choice) and 1/2 tsp dry rosemary
- 5 large carrots,
- 3 parsnips
- 2 onions
- 2 cups red wine (or 2 cups beef stock with 1 Tbsp of Balsamic vinegar)
- 4 cups water
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 twig rosemary
- 1 healthy bunch of sage
- 4 whole garlic cloves
- 1 cup lentils
- 2 cups water
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the salt, pepper, paprika and rosemary. Apply the dry rub to the meat, rubbing it into the flesh. In a large heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid, heat up a couple Tbsp of fat (lard, bacon fat, healthy oil of your choice). Brown the roast on all sides. Meanwhile clean and chop the carrots, parsnips and onion into very large chunks. Once the meat is browned, add the wine and 4 cups of water. Using a wooden spoon scrape up any bits that may have gotten stuck on the bottom of the pan. Add the prepared vegetables (if substituting different vegetables, apprx 6 cups chopped will be about right), the herbs and garlic. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook in the oven for 90 minutes. Add the lentils and 2 cups of water and cook for another hour or until lentils are tender.
Depending on the consistency of the broth, you may choose to scoop out 2 cups and place it in another pot to reduce for 10 minutes. This should not look like a gravy! This will be an Au Jus, it’s healthier cousin.
Notes: The 2 cups of water that is added with the lentils replaces some of the liquid that has evaporated during the cooking process. If you notice the pot is quite dry you may need to add as much as 4 cups or if you have a great pot with an ultra tight fitting lid you may not need to add any. Most of us will fall in the middle ground and need to add a little.
If you choose to add a heartier bean such as chickpeas or navy beans you can add everything at once. The night before, pour 4 cups of boiling water over 3/4 cup of beans. Soak over night. Add the beans at the same time as the vegetables and herbs. Check half way through to make certain there’s enough fluid to finish cooking the beans. Add water if necessary.