Pork chop with braised lentils, chimichurri and saffron aioli

Pork chop with braised lentils, chimichurri and saffron aioli

This pork chop recipe combines soupy braised lentils, zingy chimichurri and a saffron aioli to great effect. A hearty, rustic dish with plenty of bright flavours to contrast with the rich pork.
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  1. Step 1

    Score a criss-cross pattern deep into the fat all the way down the side of each chop. Balance the pork chops fat-side down in a cold ovenproof frying pan and place over a low heat to slowly render the fat (this should take 15-20 minutes). Pour the fat out of the pan occasionally into a bowl during this process and reserve – you will need 100ml to make the aioli, but if you don't get enough rendered fat you can make up the difference with vegetable oil. When most of the fat has rendered out, remove the chops from the pan and set aside to cook later
  2. Step 2

    Use the same frying pan to cook the lentils. Add the olive oil, then cook the shallot and celery for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, then deglaze the pan with the white wine
  3. Step 3

    Bring to a simmer and reduce by two-thirds, then add the lentils, stock, thyme and white wine vinegar and simmer for 15 minutes – the lentils should still have a little bite to them. Keep warm or reheat before serving
  4. Step 4

    Meanwhile, make the chimichurri by pounding the shallot into a coarse paste using a pestle and mortar. Gradually add the parsley leaves, pounding as you go, then do the same with the coriander and oregano. Stir in the olive oil and vinegar to create a loose sauce, then add the chilli flakes (if using). Season to taste with a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside
  5. Step 5

    Soak the saffron in a tablespoon of hot water for a couple of minutes. Combine the egg yolk, Dijon mustard, garlic and a pinch of salt in a food processor and blend for a minute or so until thick and pale. Add the saffron and water, then slowly drizzle in 100ml of the reserved pork fat from earlier, blending constantly. Follow that with the vegetable oil, then finish with the lemon juice. Taste the aioli and add any extra seasoning you think it needs
  6. Step 6

    When ready to serve, preheat an oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Place an ovenproof frying pan over a high heat and add a dash of vegetable oil. When smoking hot, season the chops with salt and pepper and sear for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden, then transfer to the oven and roast for 5 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove and leave to rest for a few minutes while you gently reheat the lentils
  7. Step 7

    To serve, carve the meat off the bone and slice. Spoon some lentils into serving bowls, then arrange the pork over the top. Finish with a pinch of sea salt, a spoonful of the chimichurri and a dollop of aioli