This is not a bowl of cereal.
Nor is it a takeout shawarma platter. Bother of those facts are surprising given that I’m home alone tonight, as Brian is still gallivanting in sexy, exciting suburban Maryland.
Rare indeed is the night that I deign to cook for one. Who wants to go to all that trouble and wash all those dishes just for yourself? Like you’re worth all that. Besides, that’s what Cheerios are for. And since you’re home alone, you can lick the bowl clean without anyone around to judge you, so there’s nothing to wash at all.
It’s doubly surprising because I have some serious Death Cramps going on, which usually means that I want chocolate pudding for dinner. Of course, I usually want Brian to go get it for me, because I’m too busy lying in a ball whimpering.
Such is my commitment to Smacking Down, however, that I decided not to punt tonight – although I certainly thought about it, because I’m quite the world-class punter – and made these lentil-smothered pork chops with spiced mango yogurt* just for little ol’ me. That is, after I took enough Advil to sedate a horse.
I started with the lentils, which would need to simmer for a while; I diced up and rendered some thick cut bacon, sweated some onion, carrot, celery and garlic in the bacon fat, then added the lentils and a sachet of peppercorns, coriander, bay and thyme.
*From Sparks in the Kitchen, a great book that’s usually available for a song on Amazon.
While the lentils bubbled away on the stove, I put the spiced mango yogurt together. I also put some Mozart on really loudly, because I do like to rock out with my cock out when I’m home alone. Yes, lentils and Mozart: do I know how to party, or do I know how to party? LET’S MESS THIS PLACE UP LIKE SENSIBLE THIRTY-SOMETHINGS.
Diced mango met up with some sizzling butter, to be joined by ancho chile powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pinches of clove and cayenne. I let it cook until the mango was tender, then took it off the heat and stashed it in the freezer. You know, because I’d failed to read ahead in the instructions to see that I was supposed to do the mango in advance so it would have time to cool down. I blame the cramps.
I chopped some red onion and cilantro and measured out my yogurt while one of the dogs totally cramped my rocking-out-at-home style by getting anxious over Brian’s absence and horking in front of the door.
Though if I’m being fair, I’ve been known to do the same thing. I tried to explain to them that he’ll be home tomorrow night, but they just don’t want to believe me.
When the lentils were done, I drained them and stirred in a little butter and sherry vinegar. At about the same time, the mango had come down in temperature so I folded it into the yogurt.
And then it was pork time, which, as we all know, is the best of all possible times.
I heated some butter and olive oil and seared off a sad, solitary pork chop. After it was flipped, I added the lentils back to the pan along with some chicken stock – hence the “smothering” – and let the whole mess simmer until the pork was cooked through.
I plated myself up a chop with the lentils and a good dollop of yogurt. Then I panicked for a second, because how would I take a picture of it? Usually, I have an extremely high-tech setup that consists of Brian holding a rice paper lamp with a full-spectrum bulb over whatever I’m photographing.
Somehow, I managed with plain old kitchen lights. Well, and Photoshop.
In the end, I was glad I cooked, because: HOT DAMN. This is some serious shit. The lentils are flavorful on their own, but suck up all the flavors of the pork and stock during the smothering process. The yogurt is cool, sweet, tart, crunchy, spicy, fresh – wonderfully balanced, and a great counterpoint to the aromatic lentils. The tender pork was a great vehicle, though if I’m being honest, I’d be happy with just the lentils and yogurt.
Was it worth doing all the dishes? Hell if I know. I’m home alone, I’m not washing the fucking dishes. ROCK AND ROLL FOREVER.
Okay, I’ll get over myself now. And yes, it was totally worth the dishes.