Boiled Bacon with Pearl Barley and Lentils

There are so many alternative ways of serving boiled bacon. It eats well with split peas, broad beans and even just parsley sauce, but this is one of my favourite ways of serving it. It could even be used as a winter soup. The bacon can also be served with Braised Split Peas, with just a little stock spooned over. Any left-over stock can be frozen for soup-making, some sauces, or even your next boiled bacon.

Ingredients

  • 1.8 kg (4 lb) unsmoked rolled bacon collar, rind removed
  • 5 carrots
  • 4 onions
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 leek
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • About 1.75–2.25 litres (3–4 pints) Chicken Stock
  • 50 g (2 oz) pearl barley
  • 1 large swede
  • 2 parsnips
  • 100 g (4 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 50 g (2 oz) Braised Lentils
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 quantity Mashed Potatoes

Method

Soak the bacon in water for 24 hours before cooking. This will reduce the salt content.

Put the bacon in a large pot. Coarsely chop two of the carrots, one of the onions, the celery and leek and add to the pot with the herbs. Cover with chicken stock, bring to the simmer, skim off any impurities, cover and cook gently for about 1½ hours until cooked. Allow to rest for 30 minutes in the stock.

Cook the pearl barley in some of the cooking liquor for about 15–20 minutes until soft. Cut the remaining vegetables into 1 cm (½ in) dice and sweat in half the butter with the garlic. Add the pearl barley and a little more stock, if necessary, to give a soup consistency. Allow this to simmer for about 15 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Add the cooked lentils, the remaining knobs of butter and the chopped parsley to create a barley, lentil and vegetable stew. Check for seasoning.

To serve, sit the warm mashed potatoes in the centre of the serving plates and spoon some of the stew around. Slice the bacon, allow two slices per portion, and place on the potatoes. Finish with a spoonful of stock on top of the meat and serve.

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