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Petit salé is the name the French give to cured pork belly that is boiled rather than fried, and that is lightly salted (hence ‘petit salé’, or ‘a little salted’). This is a very popular winter dish in France, easy to prepare, inexpensive, tasty and filling.  It is ideally eaten with fresh crusty bread with a bottle of hearty red wine. Salted pork is the same as ham hock, gammon or pork knuckle. You buy them from the deli already smoked. Petit salé is often used in the traditional stews of the Auvergne, like this one featuring the green lentils of Puy (the only lentil to merit an appellation d’origine).

A bouquet garni is two bay leaves, some parsley, thyme and rosemary, all tied up with a piece of string.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 large pork knuckle
450 g / 1 lb salted pork loin or unsmoked ham
675 g / 1 1/2 lbs green lentils, preferably from Puy
1 large onion, peeled
3 cloves
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced in small pieces
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 bouquet garni
10 black peppercorns
120 g / 4 oz lardons or diced bacon
1 tablespoon butter
1 or 2 smoked pork sausages (already cooked)

Preparation:

Place the pork knuckle and loin in a large bowl of cold water
Soak for 30 minutes then drain and rinse meat
Place the meats in a large dutch oven, (I use a 28cm / 11″ Le Creuset) and cover with cold water
Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour
Rinse and drain the lentils
Place in a saucepan with cold water to cover
Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes
Drain the lentils
Once the meats have simmered for an hour, add the drained lentils
Stick the cloves into the onion
Add the onion, garlic cloves, bouquet garni and peppercorns
Simmer, covered for 50 to 60 minutes
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a sauté pan
Add the bacon and cook for a few minutes
Add the sausage and cook for a few minutes
Add the bacon and smoked sausage to the lentils and pork
Cook 30 minutes more
Remove the onion, bouquet garni and garlic from the pot
Remove the meat and cut into pieces
Slice the sausage and arrange all on a platter surrounded by the lentils
Serve with a good, hot Dijon mustard
Enjoy!

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