Have you been looking for that perfect fall dinner menu for an upcoming evening with family and/or friends? Something special, something fabulously delicious, while at the same time, simple and mostly make-ahead?………….
……………… How about treating your dear one’s taste buds to an evening in lovely Provence, located in warm, sunny, southern France. Here at The Café, we’re posting French-inspired recipes all week. We’re having a fun giveaway and a guessing game which you can read all about here.
We’re celebrating my son’s wife, Lindsay’s birthday tonight, and I’m serving this delicious French-inspired dinner I know she’ll love! Lindsay, is every mother’s dream daughter-in-law; sweet, kind and super easy to get along with. She’s also one of my favorite guest bloggers – if you’re a frequent flyer here at The Café you already know all about my sweet Lindsay. She’s a terrific little chef and her recipes are always well received.
Lindsay’s crazy about all the flavors of autumn, so I’m confident that this dinner will be a wonderful treat for her. But shhhhh, just don’t tell her what I’m preparing – I want it to be a surprise! Along with being a hearty, cool weather comfort meal, this dish also has a touch of delightful French sophistication with fresh herbs and “lentilles du Puy”, commonly called French lentils.
Lentilles du Puy probably won’t be found at your local, down-the-street grocer, but you can purchase them at many specialty shops and at markets like Whole Foods (in the bulk section). They are also available online. They’re just a bit more expensive than common lentils, but well worth it.
P.S. The give-away (a YEAR supply of Maldon Sea Salt) is open till midnight on Thursday. We’d love to have you in the drawing if you haven’t already done so!
Oh, and one other thing; I’ve made this with regular lentils and it was delicious, so if you can’t find the French lentils, no worries, just use regular green lentils – it will still be great!
Braised French Lentils w/ Herbes de Provence Pork Tenderloin
Ingredients for the pork rub:
1 large (or 2 small) pork tenderloin/s, about 1½ pounds, visible fat removed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and drained
½ medium small onion
2 bay leaves
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 slices smokey bacon, diced in 1/2 inch pieces (I like to use applewood smoked bacon)
2 medium carrots, finely diced
½ medium onion, finely diced
1 medium clove garlic, finely minced
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup low sodium chicken broth, more for finishing
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Skinny Mashed Potatoes
1. Early in the day prep the pork by combining the olive oil, Herbes de Provence, sea salt, garlic and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Rub mixture liberally over tenderloin to coat all surfaces. Wrap meat in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. This can be done 6-8 hour in advance. Remove from refrigerator about ½ hour before cooking.
2. Rinse lentils under cold running water and look over them carefully, discarding any bits of stone or debris.
3. Combine lentils with onion half and bay leaves in a medium sauce pan. Add the 2 cups of chicken stock. Simmer, uncovered until lentils are cooked and liquid has mostly evaporated, about 20-30 minutes. Check lentils at this point and make sure they’re tender. If not, had a bit more chicken broth, cover pan and cook for about 5 more minutes over low heat. Remove and discard onion and bay leaves.
4. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat until golden and crispy. Remove pieces with a slotted spoon and set aside. Increase heat to medium high.
5. Add the pork and sear, cooking until browned on all sides. Remove tenderloin from the skillet and place into an oven-safe dish. Roast the pork until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads about 145-150˚F, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and tent with foil for 5 minutes before slicing.
6. If you decide to grill your pork, skip step 5 and see note below.
7. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the cooking fat leaving any browned bits in the pan. Heat the pan over medium-high heat and add the diced carrots, celery, onion and the minced garlic. Gently sweat for a few minutes.
8. Add the wine and continue cooking until most of the wine has cooked off, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock, lentils and reserved bacon. Bring to a gentle simmer and reduce until liquid reaches a light sauce consistency.
9. To finish, gently stir in parsley and thyme. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Add a bit more chicken stock if lentils become too dry – you want them a bit soupy. Serve in shallow bowls with sliced pork and mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with a bit more chopped herbs for garnish, if desired.