This deeply spiced braise of pork ribs, black lentils and white
beans is proof that some things are worth the wait. A scattering of
toasted crumbs adds irrestistable crunch to an already moreish
dish. Begin this recipe a day ahead to soak the beans.
100 gm haricot or other small white beans, soaked overnight in cold water, drained
50 ml apple cider vinegar, or to taste
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
1fresh bay leaf
1 thyme sprig, plus 1 tbsp extra leaves, to serve
2 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
50 ml olive oil
150 gm crustless sourdough bread, torn
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbspflat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 long red chilli, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 160C. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Season ribs well and cook in batches until browned all over (2-3 minutes each side). Transfer to a plate.
Heat remaining oil in a large casserole and sauté onion, chilli and garlic over medium heat until tender (6-8 minutes). Add cocoa and spices and stir until fragrant (30 seconds), then stir in mustard. Add remaining ingredients, except parsley, oregano and extra thyme leaves, and 1.4 litres water, bring to the boil, then add ribs, cover, transfer to oven and braise, checking and stirring occasionally, until beans and pork are tender (3½-4 hours). Discard thyme sprig and bay leaf, stir in parsley, oregano and thyme leaves and season generously to taste.
Meanwhile, for herbed crumbs, process ingredients in a food processor to coarse crumbs, spread on a baking tray and bake, until crisp and golden brown (10-15 minutes). Scatter evenly over stew and serve hot.
NoteNote Small black lentils are available from select delicatessens. If they’re unavailable, small green lentils would make a good substitute.