Last day of November

Winter work, but not winter temperatures, today.  The sun was warm and the air felt like spring in the garden this morning – it was 19 C at  mid day when we finished planting our little hazelnut sapling.


Here it is, some years before it gives us a crop, I think!

The snails have been helping themselves to our chard leaves


making pretty shadows on the other leaves

and chewing right through one of our prickly pear leaves

prickly pear

but they’ve left enough chard for us and we don’t mind sharing


Then home to make a warming winter stew:

In winter we often buy a cut of pork called plat de côte from the charcutier in the market.  It’s a long piece of pork ribs which he will cut into individual pieces if you like, but we usually ask him to leave it as a piece for slow roasting with onions, garlic and fennel seeds.  As our oven is not working very well I didn’t want to risk depending on it for the two to three hours this usually takes, but when I saw the pork I immediately thought of Chica Andaluza’s lentil stew and, inspired by her, decided to create my own version.


I put the piece of pork – four ribs but still in one piece – into a cast-iron pan with 200 grams of green lentils, a chopped onion, some chopped potatoes, four roughly chopped cloves of garlic, 2 dried chorizo peppers cut into pieces, 2 bay leaves and some sprigs of thyme that I’d picked in the garden this morning.  I covered it all with water, brought it to the boil and simmered it for an hour and a half.

The green lentils are similar to the variety known as Puy lentils when they are grown in the Le Puy region of central France but they grow near here too and we have bought very local ones from Bédarieux which is less than 20 kilometres away.  I think this stew would work as well with dried beans, haricots or similar, but I wanted to make it today rather than soaking the beans first and these lentils do cook very quickly.


When the lentils and the meat were cooked it was easy to cut the piece of pork into four servings ready to reheat this evening with added salt.  I didn’t put any salt in earlier because pulses don’t cook properly in salty water.

Thanks for the inspiration, Chica! And I’m going to try your recipe soon too.