Smoked Pork Chops and Lentils

This dish is from the recipe booklet American Cooking: The Eastern Heartland, one of the Time-Life series Foods of the World. This booklet is part of the regional American cuisines. The Eastern heartland doesn’t seem that well-defined to me. The states included in this “region” are New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. There are quite a few recipes of Quaker origin, and there are some that have Philadelphia in the name, as in Philadelphia Pepper Pot. And then there’s Martha Washington’s Grand Leg of Lamb, and quite a few German recipes. I learned that the “Dutch” part of Pennsylvania Dutch is derived from Deutsch, which explains the German influence.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction by James Beard:
“Eastern Heartland cooking is stick-to-the-ribs stuff, more plain than fancy, given to substantial meat dishes, dumplings, breads, pies. It does not have the austere background of the New England style, or the glamorous background of some of the Southern style; but it is hearty, appetizing, often exciting and always good.”

No matter the ill-defined description of this culinary region, the recipes all look good. According to my notes, I have made and loved the corn custard, the pumpkin bread, the Philadelphia cinnamon rolls, deviled short ribs, stuffed fresh ham, as well as this recipe.

I’m sure you all know how much I love lentils by now – they’re inexpensive, and so good for you. They require a little soaking time, but even that can be sped up with hot water, and then the cooking process is quick and easy. If you use good lentils, like my favorite French variety Le Puy, I guarantee that you can’t oversoak or overcook them. Unlike the inexpensive larger lentils that mush up at a moment’s time, Le Puy keep their shape.

I hope you can find good smoked pork chops where you live, because this combination is perfect. There’s nothing terribly unique to this recipe – it’s just good and perfect for fall.

Smoked Pork Chops and Lentils
Slightly adapted

16 ounces lentils, I prefer Le Puy
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 cups chicken stock, fresh or canned
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
4 six-ounce smoked loin pork chops, each cut about 1 inch thick

To start, pour the lentils into a deep bowl and cover them generously with water. Let them sit a couple of hours to hydrate, or even overnight. There shouldn’t be too much extra water. If there is, drain the lentils before proceeding with the recipe.

In a heavy 4- to 5-quart casserole, heat the oil over medium heat until a light haze forms above it. Add the onion and sauté until barely translucent. Add the garlic and stir for a minute or so, then pour in the soaked lentils and chicken stock.

Add the seasoning, then bring to a simmer. Let the lentils cook for about 20 minutes.

Add the parsley, and then stick the pork chops in the lentils using tongs. Cover the chops with lentils.

Cover the casserole tightly, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes minutes. Add a little more broth if the lentils are drying up too quickly.

Taste for seasoning and serve at once, directly from the casserole or, if you prefer, mound the lentils on a heated platter and arrange the pork chops attractively around them.

Sprinkle with sliced green onions and more chopped parsley, if desired. Or some fresh thyme leaves.

Because these pork chops are already fully cooked, an alternative is to give them a nice sear in a skillet, but I wanted to respect the original recipe.

By Published On: September 28th, 202238 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

38 Comments

  1. David Scott Allen September 28, 2022 at 6:32 AM - Reply

    I remember being introduced to smoked pork chops when I was in college — they are so good! And with the lentils? An amazing dish. Can’t wait to try this — and, I also live the Puy lentils! My mom had that series of cookbooks (not sure what happened to them all, but I have a few) — and the Philadelphia cinnamon rolls are really good!

    • Chef Mimi September 28, 2022 at 7:09 AM - Reply

      That was such a good series, although I remember James beard and Craig Claiborne saying at some point that they wished they hadn’t rushed through writing them so quickly.

  2. Charlie DeSando September 28, 2022 at 6:37 AM - Reply

    very nicely done, I think lentils are an underutilized ingredient. Looks tremendous

    • Chef Mimi September 28, 2022 at 7:08 AM - Reply

      They really are wonderful. Especially the le puy variety.

  3. angiesrecipes September 28, 2022 at 6:43 AM - Reply

    What a sensational meal! The pork chops look so beautifully done, juicy and tender.

    • Chef Mimi September 28, 2022 at 7:08 AM - Reply

      I love that they stay tender in the lentils!

  4. Frank Fariello September 28, 2022 at 9:20 AM - Reply

    Wow, this looks sensational. My kind of cooking this. Though I was surprised to learn it was American. When I saw the title and picture, I immediately thought it was a French dish. Reminds me a lot of the fare I liked to eat back in the days when I was living in Paris…

    • Chef Mimi September 28, 2022 at 9:21 AM - Reply

      oh, very interesting! I wouldn’t have known that!

  5. John / Kitchen Riffs September 28, 2022 at 10:01 AM - Reply

    Love lentils! We use them a lot, in soup, but also sometimes as a side. And smoked pork chops are wonderful. Good stuff — thanks.

    BTW, just want to say we’ve just posted our last blog post. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your blog, and I’ll still be visiting. But we’ve got a lot of activities lined up that will be occupying my time, so my visits will be much more sporadic in the future. Best wishes to you.

    • Chef Mimi September 28, 2022 at 10:57 AM - Reply

      Oh no! Well, activities are good, and it’s nice to travel once again. Have a great life – I’ll miss your blog and those incredible cocktail photos!

  6. Alex September 28, 2022 at 2:01 PM - Reply

    Hi Mimi,
    I love lentils, and, like you, have a special place in my stomach for Puy lentils. But you might want to try a few alternatives that are in the same category as Puy (small, resilient and doesn’t fall apart). I have found a lentil called Beluga, named because they’re small, round and black… the Castelluccio di Norcia from the Italian region Umbria with an intense flavor, some new small hybrid grown close to where I live in Germany in the Black forest that are also small and dark and creamy (these are called Schwarzwaldlinsen, but I don’t know if they market them internationally yet), and finally and old type of lentil that was revived a few years ago and that used to be cultivated in a poor area of southern Germany called the Alb, a sparse plateau about 3,000 ft high that are called Albloisa in the swabian dialect of the area. The term loisa is the local dialect for Linsen which is the german word for lentils. Maybe you can find one or the other kind – they are all really good!

    • Chef Mimi September 28, 2022 at 5:52 PM - Reply

      Oh, I have tried many! It’s just what I love to do! Belugas are beautiful. I haven’t seen Schwarzwadinsen so I’ll look for those as well as Alb. It’s my goal in life to try as many foods as possible!!! Thank you for this info!

  7. sherry September 28, 2022 at 7:52 PM - Reply

    sorry – it’s a no to pork chops but i do love lentils! We loved all the history when we lived in the US, and enjoyed learning about the Pennsylvania Dutch, the Amish and Mennonites etc. So much interestinng history. I do remember an indigenous museum we went to too …

    • Chef Mimi September 29, 2022 at 3:05 PM - Reply

      We toured an Amish area in Pennsylvania with our daughters. Very very interesting.

  8. Tandy I Lavender and Lime September 28, 2022 at 10:55 PM - Reply

    I find the texture of lentils to be off putting but have never tried this brand. The dish does look very hearty.

  9. StefanGourmet September 29, 2022 at 1:42 AM - Reply

    No smoked pork chops available here (only smoked pork belly) so I’ll have to do the smoking myself. The combination with lentils sounds and looks great; I think it may work even better with capuchins. Not sure if those are known/used in the Heartland.

    • Chef Mimi September 29, 2022 at 3:04 PM - Reply

      Capuchin monkeys? Or the monks?!!!! Otherwise I have no idea to what you’re referring!!!

      • StefanGourmet October 2, 2022 at 2:22 AM

        It is a variety of field pea (Pisum sativum var. arvense)with purple pods and brown peas that is eaten in ways similar to brown beans (like pinto or borlotti). They are perhaps more Dutch than I was aware of.

  10. neil@neilshealthymeals.com September 29, 2022 at 6:15 AM - Reply

    Glad you used Puy lentils for this Mimi. I do so love them and feel they’re often overlooked in favour of red lentils.

    • Chef Mimi September 29, 2022 at 3:02 PM - Reply

      I’ve tried a lot of lentils, and now pretty much rely on Le Puy. They just so perfect!

  11. Ann Coleman September 29, 2022 at 8:43 AM - Reply

    I do love “heartland” food too!

    • Chef Mimi September 29, 2022 at 3:02 PM - Reply

      I guess it’s hearty!

  12. Bernadette September 29, 2022 at 10:43 AM - Reply

    This brought back memories. My grandmother was Pennsylvania Dutch. Smoked pork chops were always on the weekly rotation. We ate them with buttered noodles or spaetzel.

    • Chef Mimi September 29, 2022 at 3:01 PM - Reply

      That sounds so good! I love spaetzele! (However you spell it!)

  13. Thao @ In Good Flavor October 1, 2022 at 10:19 PM - Reply

    Eastern heartland sounds like my kind of food—simple and hearty. I’ve never seen smoked pork chops at my grocery store, but the combination of the pork chops and lentils looks amazing!

    • Chef Mimi October 2, 2022 at 9:44 AM - Reply

      It really is a nice combination! very autumnal!

  14. Debra October 2, 2022 at 5:28 PM - Reply

    This is a wonderful combination, Mimi. I wouldn’t have naturally paired the lentils with the pork, but this is very appealing. I love lentils and would imagine they take on a wonderful flavor boosted by the smoked pork chops. Our weather has cooled just enough that I can actually pretend it’s Autumn. This dish would help. :-)

    • Chef Mimi October 2, 2022 at 5:47 PM - Reply

      It’s autumn here in the morning. By noon it’s back to summer!

  15. David @ Spiced October 3, 2022 at 6:30 AM - Reply

    I do love smoked pork chops, but they can be a bit difficult to find…well, unless you smoke ’em yourself! Either way, I love the combination of flavors here. As you noted, it’s simple but the flavors are spot on. I had to laugh at the regional definitions, too – so strange! But they got James Beard to write an intro, so that means something!

    • Chef Mimi October 3, 2022 at 9:14 AM - Reply

      Yeah, he and Craig Claiborne were both involved heavily in that series of books. I remember reading that there were regrets because they whipped through them so quickly. Maybe that’s why there’s only one recipe book for all of Africa!

  16. Ben | Havocinthekitchen October 3, 2022 at 10:02 AM - Reply

    I’ve never had smoked pork chops (Indeed, I didn’t even realize they exist!) Great combination of flavours and textures here.

    • Chef Mimi October 3, 2022 at 8:22 PM - Reply

      Ohhhhh, they’re good! I hope you can find some!

  17. Raymund October 5, 2022 at 5:18 PM - Reply

    This looks so tasty, Like Ben I never ahd smoked pork chops before but I am sure they would be amazing.

    • Chef Mimi October 6, 2022 at 10:11 AM - Reply

      I guess I assumed everyone could buy smoked pork chops, but obviously I’m wrong! It is a great combo with the lentils.

  18. Healthy World Cuisine October 7, 2022 at 11:14 AM - Reply

    This is one cozy fall dish! Love the photo near the window. I actually have pork chops reserved for tonight. They are not smoked but love the rest of your simple ingredients. Cooking lentils, especially in the fall, is so delicious and nourishing.

    • Chef Mimi October 8, 2022 at 2:26 PM - Reply

      I didn’t realize smoked pork chops aren’t available everywhere!

  19. Jeff the Chef October 9, 2022 at 10:25 AM - Reply

    How interesting! This sounds like a perfect dish for cool weather.

    • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 8:13 AM - Reply

      It really is! So autumnal.

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