For the first stage of cooking:
- 1/2 pound dried Pardina lentils, or French green lentils
- 1 carrot, chopped into two large chunks
- 1 rib celery, chopped into two large chunks
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- A nice large chunk of slab bacon, about 1/4 pound
- 2 cups Caldo del Dia or chicken stock
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 fresh bay leaves
For the second stage:
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup slab bacon, cut into half-inch cubes
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups cooked lentils (from the first stage, above), strained, with the cooking liquid reserved
- 1/4 cup finely grated Idiazabal or Manchego cheese
- 4 eggs, poached in olive oil (see below)
- 1 tablespoon truffle paste or fresh black truffle
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 4 thin slices Iberico ham
For the first stage, give the lentils a quick soak and rinse and make sure there aren’t any stones (when I was working in San Sebastian in Spain, I bit down on a stone in some lentils from Family Meal and shattered one of my molars, not something I recommend!). Combine the rinsed lentils with the rest of the first stage ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, at medium-low temperature until the lentils are very tender, about 45 minutes. I like my lentils to be creamy and cooked through; however, if you want a properly cooked lentil that retains all the shape of the bean, you can bring the lentils to a rolling boil for 1 minute, three times in a row, before simmering (raise the temperature to a boil and boil for 1 minute, then reduce and simmer for 1 minute and then repeat two more times; this will set the shape of the beans and keep the skins from bursting).
Once the lentils are cooked through to your liking, remove from the heat and set aside to cool. While the lentils are cooking, prepare the second stage ingredients for the dish.
For the second stage, heat up 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium-high heat and add the bacon, browning evenly on all sides. Once the bacon is nicely browned, add the shallot. Sauté briefly until translucent, then add the vinegar to deglaze all the bits of bacon goodness stuck to the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, then add the lentils and season conservatively with salt and pepper. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the Idiazabal cheese until completely melted. The lentils should have a creamy texture and shouldn’t be too dry, but they shouldn’t be soupy either. Add the reserved cooking liquid as necessary to adjust the texture.
If you’re using truffle paste, fold it into the lentils; otherwise, for fresh truffles, wait and shave directly over the final dish.
Remove from the heat and fold in the butter until creamy. Divide between four bowls, place a confited egg on top on each plate, and finish with a slice of Iberico ham.
Note-to poach eggs in olive oil:
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 guindilla pepper or other dried chile
- 1/2 cup EVOO
- 4 small organic eggs, as fresh as possible
- Coarse sea salt
In a small saute pan, heat th garlic and chile in the oil to 140°F.