Smoked Iberico Pork with Puy Lentils and Feta Cheese

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Look at this pork steak, carved  into 1cm-thick tranches to exposes a perfectly cooked interior. A PINK interior! Yes, that’s right – pork cooked pink. Medium-rare, to be precise. What does this look like to you? Scary? Magnificent? 

Well, I’m here to tell you that whatever your opinion on its aesthetics, the taste, the texture, the the bite, the mouth feel, the explosion of piggy juices on the palate was beyond magnificent.

And here’s for why: this is no ordinary pork chop. This is an Iberico pork steak (sourced from Jack O’Shea butcher in Primrose Hill). And to add magnificence upon magnifience, this is a SMOKED Iberico pork chop. It’s about as perfect as pork can be.

The wonder of Iberico – as I’ve written before – is that it is perfectly safe to eat medium-rare i.e. when the internal temperature reaches 62C.

Now the ideal way to test this is to use an instant-read digital temperature probe, or you could cook the pork in a Sous Vide water bath at 62C for at least an hour. But I’ve cooked with Iberico pork many times now and trust my instincts – and as I write, two days after my wife and I consumed this glorious dish, we are both as right as rain.

Anyway, that’s enough of me justifying the pinkness in the picture. If it ain’t for you, it ain’t for you. But if it is, let’s get to the recipe.

The first stage of this recipe involves smoking the pork. Now you can give this stage a miss if you don’t have a smoker, but my wife bought me a Cameron’s smoker for my birthday and it would be an insult to her gift-giving not to use it.

The rest is as simple as cooking a great steak – any kind of steak, though in this case, an Iberico pork steak – and serve it with your favourite accompaniments which, in this case, is puy lentils with red peppers, feta cheese and mint leaves.

Serves 2

2 Iberico pork steaks or boneless chops
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
1 pack of pre-cooked puy lentils
100g feta cheese, cut into 1cm cubes
8-10 fresh mint leaves, torn

1. First, smoke the pork steaks. Put 2 tbsp of wood chips in a smoker and close the lid. Heat over a high flame until it starts to seep smoke. Turn the heat off.

2. Put the pork steaks on the smoker rack, open the smoker and put the rack inside. Close immediately. Leave for at least 30 minutes or longer, if you want your steaks very smoky. Remove the pork from the smoker and transfer to a plate.

3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the onion until soft, approx. 6-7 minutes. Add the diced pepper and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the puy lentils, stir and heat through.

4. Meanwhile, cook the pork steaks. Heat a frying pan until it’s very hot. Oil the pork and cook for 8-12 minutes, depending on how well done you want your meat. Flip the steaks every 20 seconds to build up a crust and to ensure the pork reaches the correct internal temperature of at least 62C.

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5. Remove the pork to a warm plate and rest for a couple of minutes, then carve into slices.

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6. Scatter the feta cheese over the puy lentils and spoon onto serving plates.

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7. Drape over the pork slices and garnish with torn mint leaves.

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