French Friday: Mustard Pork with Carrots and Lentils
Initially, I didn’t know if I should tell you about this recipe. But the truth is my complaints are a little akin to those Epicurious reviewers who give a recipe one star and then explain why: “I didn’t have duck confit, so I substituted tofu, skipped the tarragon and used dried thyme, and since I’m not a fan of onions or garlic I left those out, too. This recipe was so bland!” I really, really don’t want to be one of those people.
So I’m passing this recipe on because I have real faith that is good, and that I was the one to muck it up by wandering too far astray. The bones are solid, the preparation simple, the result the sort of homey French farmhouse food I can never turn down. But I do think the difference between this being simple or sublime lays in the ingredients, and this is where I went all wrong. If you use a high-quality, hormone-free pork tenderloin, fresh organic carrots, and green French lentils, you’ll be in business. Breaded pork, rich, mustardy lentils, and carrots just beginning to caramelize––really, what’s not to love?
And so we’ve finally reached Friday, and I can’t tell you quite how exuberant I feel about it! I’m off to my first yoga retreat this weekend, which I will hopefully have many interesting things to say about next week. How do you plan to replenish, recharge, and reboot in these next two blissful days? Whatever you do, I hope it’s filled with fine food, friendship and fun.
Mustard Pork with Carrots and Lentils
1 pound precut fresh carrot sticks
5 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 (1 1/4-pound) pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 (15-ounce) cans lentils, rinsed and drained (or 3 cups cooked French green lentils)
2/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Toss carrots with 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a shallow baking pan and roast while preparing pork.
Pat pork dry and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then brown pork all over, about 3 minutes total.
Put pork on a work surface and brush with 1 tablespoon mustard. Stir together bread crumbs and 1/2 tablespoon oil, then press onto mustard on pork to form a crust.
Transfer pork to pan with carrots and roast until carrots are browned and tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meat registers 140 to 145°F, 15 to 22 minutes. Let pork stand 5 minutes; keep carrots warm, covered (or continue roasting if needed).
While pork roasts, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil with garlic and thyme in a small saucepan until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in lentils, broth, and remaining tablespoon mustard and cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and discard thyme. Serve pork with carrots and lentils.