Funny isn’t it, how things can change in an instant (or so it seems). My recent absence of updates/comments has been for good reason – we’re now the proud parent of two adopted girls.
I guess we’ve had long enough to get used to the idea but the first weeks were bizarre, fantastic and exhausting all in one go. They really are the most amazing little girls and have great appetites so whilst making them my chargrilled sardines with orange and fennel salad may be a little way off (say 30 years), I hold out hope that they won’t be quite as difficult with food as I was…
Still, bed comes early to them so I’ve been trying to rummage behind the whole milk, yogurt pots and “here’s some I made earlier” pasta sauces to find something for the adults.
The nights are drawing in fast, but I managed to get a last use of the gas grill recently to cook some great locally raised pork chops. They have some bone and a lovely thick layer of fat to keep the meat tender and create some good smoke, but care is still needed to stop it drying out. To accompany some lentils, cooked in good chicken stock with vegetables and smoked pancetta. Simple.
I got a big block the pancetta, inexplicably, just before we embarked on our new adventure and I’ve been trying to use it up ever since.
So in-between hiding vegetables by blitzing them and selling them to the girls as pasta sauce, and supplying an endless procession of Dora the Explorer and Peppa Pig, episodes, I’ll try and make the odd dish aimed more at us adults…
• Two good quality pork chops, with a layer of fat.
• 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
• 100g pancetta, chopped into lardons
• 2 sticks of celery, chopped thinly
• 1 medium red onion
• 1 large carrot, diced
• 100-150g green lentils
• 750ml good quality chicken stock – homemade if possible.
• A little oil
• Salt and pepper.
In a large pan with a lid, fry the garlic and pancetta gently in a little oil to release the fat. You could do the pancetta alone first to crisp it up, but you might burn the garlic and I want the garlic to make a nice flavoured ‘oil’.
Add the onion to soften, then the rest of the vegetables and finally the lentils.
Pour in the stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes until tender.
Meanwhile, get the grill on. I used some lava block on the gas Weber these days to get a better smoke flavour without having like the charcoal. Brush the pork oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on the grill use a thermometer after 15 minutes or so to ensure that the chops are just cooked – 65ºC/150ºF should do it if its good quality. A bit of charring from the grill adds a lot.
Simply serve it up, pull the toys and mobile phones from behind the cushions and relax for another evening…..
That looks delicious and by the look of it, excellent crunchy fat too 😉
Sorry, I meant to say congratulations on your new assistant chefs 🙂
Thanks MD, good pork is the key isn’t it? They’re actually all too willing to help in the kitchen at the moment – which can lead to tears when I tell them they definitely can’t hold Daddy’s knives 😉
I bet they will turn into great cooks 🙂
Yums, this looks delicious! And all the best in this new journey in your life!
Thank you Angelina very kind of you. We’re adjusting fast but enjoying it!
Hi mate, congratulations to you and Helen. Rew had mentioned the good news. Must be very exciting times for you all. Keep on cooking……
Cheers Nick. Been meaning to send round an email/message to you all now we have some pics of our own. Both a bit stunned in the beginning, but they’re great! Cooking taking a bit of a back seat (other than kid’s food) but I’ll get back in routine. See you & Gwen soon hopefully.
That looks great and congratulations on you new arrivals. Cooking with kids is great, not in the literal sense obviously. Ours just want to eat it rather than make it most of the time but when the chocolate comes out they get a bit more interested! How long did it take to adopt? Must have been an interesting experience!
Cheers and thanks very much on both counts! They are a little obsessed with watching me cook but I guess thats a good thing eh? I promised we make some Peppa Pig cakes at little while back (with chocolate on too) and I have quickly learned that they don’t forget do they? The adoption process is fairly full-on, but we have two very loving and bright girls now so it was all worth while. It took us about 12 months for various reasons, but it can be done very quickly these days now.
Godd luck with Peppa Pig. I did an Angry Birds cake last year (easy) abut this year I have to do MineCraft (mind-bogglingly difficult)
Congratulations on your new family. I know the girls will give you immense pleasure through the years ahead. Now about that meal, it sounds delicious…I like pork with lentils.
Thanks Karen – they are superb kids and I need some sous chefs 😉 The pork is great with lentils, it’s lovely end of summer/early autumn (or indeed, fall) food!
I made it a few days ago & loved every bite! I also made a lentil stew with curly kale a few days ago, it is on my blog, you will love it too! 😉 x
Also contras on the 2 adopted girls! Yeahh! that is reason to celebrate, ..bring out the champagne!