Y’know that feeling that you get when you’ve done something well…..? Well I got that feeling when I put this concoction (“Fram me awn wee heed” as my Jan’s aunt Peggy used to say) in front of the people who I cook for twice each month in our little flat. It’s a U3A group called ‘The Luncheon Club’….. (TLC). I won’t expand on that at the mo, but suffice to say that the U3A is a great organisation for the older person and TLC gives me an opportunity to try things out on real live people!
I always exercise great caution when the phrase ‘sweet chilli’ is banded about. I once had a starter of sweet chilli prawns in a restaurant and damaged my taste buds for several days. Thus, now I am very careful, even when I am cooking. Remember that the chilli effect actually builds up as you eat, so even though it may be at a level that is nice when you start, there is a possibility that it could become much greater by the time that the knife and fork go down. To that end, I do a very technical thing.
The commercial sweet chilli sauces are very available and quite inexpensive. They can be tried for chilli heat and can then be used to give a lovely flavour, without boilin’ yer socks off. I know that I’m rambling again, but I put great store by not putting out recipes that can be problematic, so please bear with me.
I am a great fan of Puy lentils, so I set out to buy a kilo of them from my friendly market man. He had about half that amount. Buggrit. So I had some red split lentils as well. When I got back home, my dear lady wife told me that we already had a bag of red split, so I decided to use those instead of the Puy. They’re quite red and would look pretty on the plate, and anyway, as I was putting the lentils onto a base layer of sweet potato mash, the lower layer would then come as a bit of a surprise.
The pork would be marinated in the sweet chilli sauce and then a liquor/sauce/gravy/jus (call it wot yer like) would carry the rest of the chilli effect. So, after this long and rambling intro, this is what I did.
Sweet Chilli Pork on Red Split Lentils:
For 4 people, find:
- 4 thick pork loin steaks
- Large bottle of commercially available sweet chilli sauce
- Approx 10 oz of red split lentils (around 270-300g)
- 3 lamb/pork/chicken/veg stock cubes (really, any except beef or fish)
- Sweet potato – you decide amount
- 4 red onions (other colours are available)
- 1 red capsicum pepper (bell pepper)
- A pack of mixed medium chillies, or a red and a green medium chilli.
- Other veg (I used froz sweetcorn & broad beans, but you do what y’like)
- Oil (or Fry-Light if you’re trying to stay within Slimming World guidelines)
- Frying pan
- Oven tin
- Take each loin steak and remove the fat layer. This is optional, but I always try to give people the opportunity to have the low-fat version if at all possible.
- Using a SHARP knife, just score lines obliquely across one surface of the pork, in two directions. This gives diamond shaped slashes, making it nice’n’pretty.
- Put all steaks into a bowl and put loads of sweet chilli sauce over them. Massage it all nicely into the meat and leave it covered with cling film in the fridge overnight if poss.
- Finely chop the red onions. (See ‘Tricks’n’Tips for the easy way to do ANYTHING to do with cooking….)
- Halve the pepper, cut out the seed head, remove all seeds. Chop into smallish squares. Other shapes are permissible.
- Cut each chilli in half, lengthways. Remove the seed head and all the seeds. Shred each chilli, lengthways into tiny, thin strands.
- NOW WAS YOUR HANDS. TWICE…..and don’t go to visit the smallest room just yet, as if you touch your ‘tender parts’ (of either gender) with hands that have been handling chillies, you may get a bit of a shock. This also applies to eyes, so don’t try putting in contact lenses after chillies…… even these medium ones can pack a punch). Put the shredded chillies aside for assembly.
- Fry the onions and the peppers in a little oil (or Fry-Light if you are S/W oriented…). Just let ’em sit there to cook/fester for a while, perhaps even until assembly.
- Put the oven on to pre-heat. About 160C.
- Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into smallish chunks. Cover with cold water and boil or 20 mins or so. You can use the water for the lentils afterwards – “Don’t waste taste”!
- Drain and mash the sweet potato, using perhaps a little butter/spread. Don’t add anything if you’re trying to be low-fat. Put it aside, covered, ready for plating up. You could pop it into the oven to keep warm…….
- Pour the red split lentils into a saucepan and cover with over twice as much water as you have volume of lentils. Use the sweet potato water. You can add more later if it looks dry.
- Crumble the stock cubes into the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 mins. Drain, but retain any remaining water; it will be used for the sauce/liquor, etc. Cover the lentils and have them ready for ‘assembly’. You could pop it into the oven to keep warm…….
- Take the pork steaks, just wiping them of excess sauce with a clean finger (you can, of course, wash all of your hands, not just one finger…..), placing them slashed side down into a hot frying pan, to gain colour. Don’t be afraid to have some blackened areas on the pork; the sauce will go black very quickly.
- Put all of the pork marinade left in the bowl into the saucepan. Dollop a good amount of extra chilli sauce from the bottle in there too. Go on….. a bit more….. yes, that’s about it. Heat it and modify the sauce to your taste. You might want to add another stock cube. Perhaps more water…or more chilli sauce……or even white wine! Keep it warm.
- The pork needs to sear and blacken in areas, showing the slashing quite well. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to turn them over.
- When they have been turned, almost immediately, lift them out and put them into an oven tin and pop the tin into the oven. They’ll need about 10 mins to just cook through nicely, but they will be lovely’n’soft; not hard like so many people cook pork.
- Take the mask and put a dollop on the centre of the plate. Spread it with a big spoon.
- Dollop the lentils over it, covering the mash.
- Put the other veg around the edge of the lentils (if you didn’t do any, it won’t matter at all….)
- Pop the pork steak on the top, slashed side uppermost, and add the fried onions & peppers to one side of the pork.
- Dollop a load of sweet chilli sauce on top of the pork and sprinkle a few shreds of the fresh chillies on top to look pretty and give spikes of excitement.
- Offer the extra sauce in a jug, so that people may have full control of their chilli experience.