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One French word: lentilles, a French recipe: poitrine de porc rôtie aux lentilles

Day 20 – a new French word, a new French recipe: lentilles

Lentille, feminine noun (une lentille, la lentille, des lentilles) = lentil (pronounced laan-tee-y, you don’t hear the s in the plural). Usually used in the plural, des lentilles. There are several types of lentil, des lentilles vertes = green lentils, des lentilles du Puy= Puy lentils (le Puy is a place in the centre of France), des lentilles corail= Indian orange lentils; there are a great number of varieties of lentil.

Lentils (wikipedia photo)

Lentils (wikipedia photo)

We eat a lot of lentils in France, and produce a lot. But the following figures, provided by FAO Statistics, are really interesting. For 2008, the following countries produced the most lentils: Canada, over 1,000,000 tons (37% of world production); India, 810,000 tons (29%); Nepal, 161,000 tons (6%); China, 150,000 ton (5%); Turkey, 131,000; USA, 109.000; Ethiopia, 94,000; Bangladesh 72,000; Australia, 64,000; Iran, 56,000; Syria, 34,000. Interesting isn’t it? And France doesn’t even figure!

Other uses of the word in French: lentilles de contact = contact lenses, une lentille optique = lens (in a telescope for instance), la lentille d’eau = lemna minor (a tiny green leaved water plant).

My recipe for today : Poitrine de porc rôtie aux lentilles (roast belly of pork and lentils). This dish is more usually made with salt pork, but since I am not sure how easy salt pork is to get in the various countries you are reading from, I have chosen to simplify. Roast belly of pork is in any case delicious, and very economical.

Roast pork and lentils

Poitrine de porc rôtie aux lentilles

For 4 people you will need:

  • 600gr of pork belly (poitrine de porc) with the skin on
  • 400gr lentils (brown lentils or Puy lentils, not orange ones)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • A bouquet garni (remember? celery, thyme, bayleaf tied up together)
  • Pepper, salt, vinegar and a little oil



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180° (see conversion tables)
  2. Score the pork rind (la couenne) with a sharp knife so that you can more easily portion out the crackling once it is cooked.
  3. Rub with salt and a little oil.
  4.  Place in an oven dish and roast for 45mns to 1 hour. The pork will render a fair amount of fat. The skin should be hard and crackly. If it is not, put it under the grill for a few minutes, watching closely so that you remove it before it burns.
  5. While the pork is roasting, rinse the lentils under running water and examine them to make sure there are no small stones; this is not uncommon, and can break a tooth.
  6. Put into a saucepan with 1 1/2 litres of water, the bouquet garni, the carrot cut into very small squares, the onion chopped into small pieces. NO SALT. Salt toughens pulses (les légumes secs) if you add before cooking. Add it once the lentils are cooked through.
  7. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
  8. Drain and serve on warmed plates, accompanied by the pork, cut into four portions, with pieces of crackling alongside. Add freshly ground pepper and a dash of vinegar or even vinaigrette to the lentils and put the pot of French mustard on the table.

Do not throw away the pork fat; you can use it to fry up vegetables for soup; or fry slivers of garlic in irt and put a teaspoonful on top of Chinese pork and vegetable soup (with pan scrapings, even better); or you can spread it on toast for tea with a bit of salt and pepper  (not as good as beef dripping, but very tasty nevertheless).

Any left over pork is very good cold, finely sliced (5mm) against the grain, that is from top to bottom of the piece of pork, and nibbled with a glass of wine as an apéritif. Left over lentils are excellent as a salad, with vinaigrette.

Bon appétit.


About OneFrenchWord

I was a professional linguist and have been a life-long foodie. I am now lucky enough to be retired and free to roam the beaches around my home at the tip of the Finistère (Brittany, France). Writing is occupying a larger place in my life, with this blog and a children's book in preparation. I shall feel much happier calling myself a writer when I have published a book. And so posts on OneFrenchWord will be published first as an e-book, my ambition being to see a glossy volume on French language and cuisine in print some day. So keep reading, and snap up the book when it appears!

5 responses »

  1. We can buy real French lentils from France, here in San Francisco. Of course, they cost quite a bit more, and with all the other ingredients in a recipe, I am not sure I can tell the difference. Best way to check it would be to make two exactly the same simple lentil recipe, one with French, and one with American (or are lentils even grown here?) I do love lentils, so thanks for this recipe.

  2. Well I think you would see a difference, more flavour, keep their shape better. Yes USA does produce lots of lentils (see blog entry). Lentils are so good for you, and simply just so good! I’ve eaten them twice today!

  3. Lentils are one of my all time favourite foods, and I was planning pork for my family dinner next Thursday… so this will be the recipe I use! Thank you and I always mean to send a post saying how much I love getting your daily recipes, and the wonderful way you help to explain how to say a french word. I can’t promise I’ll remember them, but it is good fun trying.

    • That’s OK, Kate, I know you are there, even if you don’t comment! And I’m proud that a cook of your caliber uses my recipes, even if in fact they are just reminding you! But I think recipes and recipe books are often just that, reminding us of what we already know, giving us ideas;

  4. Yum, I love lentils too. I can eat them almost in any shape or form. This recipe sounds delish..


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