Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)

Cook Eat WorldEuropeanSalt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: January 22, 2023

Last Updated: January 23rd, 20230 Comments

The combination of tender salt pork and puy lentils is a marriage made in heaven. A rich, hearty bowl of smoky, umami flavour that reaches every corner of the home. So inviting, so delicious.

A bowl of lentils with flaked pork and smoked sausages, scattered with fresh parsley | Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)

The moment I first tasted this dish I was completely obsessed! In an unassuming train station bistro in Paris, I ordered my first sampling of salt pork and lentils. I was amazed how much flavour this simple plate of food packed in.

Rich, umami and a little smoky. An absolute triumph of taste and texture. Puy lentils are the most luxurious with a light nutty flavour and creamy interior. This dish filled me with joy and filled my stomach too! It has every base covered - comfort food, elevated to new heights.

What's ahead?

What is Petit Sale aux Lentilles?

In France, 'petit sale' refers to 'salted pork' or 'boiling bacon'. Pork that has been soaked in a brine. Salting pork is a good way of preserving the meat, but it also creates a wonderful texture and flavour. The dish originates in Auvergne, in south-central France.

Petit sale is made with salted pork, combined with lentils and vegetables and typically the addition of smoked sausage too.

Why it works

It's hearty - This dish will fill you up and give you a big warm hug too. In Paris where I first at this it was -5ºc/23ºf outside and this lentil treasure warmed every inch of my soul.

It's insanely tasty - Maybe it's the salt, maybe the smoky sausage or creamy lentils - whatever it is, this dish is packing a mighty swathe of flavour and I'm here for it!

The ingredients for Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)

Stuff you'll need

Making salt pork with puy lentils is not difficult at all. You'll need to get your hands on some salt pork, or salt your own which is actually not so hard (all is explained in the recipe), and then after that it's plain sailing with everyday ingredients.

  • Salt Pork - You can find this is some supermarkets these days, but if not you can salt your own (it'll add a few hours to the recipe time, but trust me, it's worth it.
  • Smoked sausage - Find whatever smoked variety you can. I often use a thick Polish Kielbasa sausage (they're a good match to the French style).
  • Puy Lentils - Puy lentils are often called French Lentils, Black Lentils or Beluga lentils. You can use green or brown lentils too.
  • Fresh - Carrot, onion, celery and garlic are the backbone to the lentils.
  • Herbs - Bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and sage will elevate the flavours for a fragrant herbaceous note.

Step by Step

Making Petit Sale aux Lentilles is a pretty easy affair, but does require a bit of time, but all good things... as they say. The first thing is to prepare the pork for cooking - this means soaking for about 4-6 hours in cold water to remove some of the excess salt.

This depends on the type of salted pork you have, In France some are sold ready to cook, but elsewhere you'll need to soak to remove the excess saltiness. If you make your own salt pork you can control the saltiness.

  1. Cook the salt pork - In a little water with a sprig of thyme and a bay leaf. It'll take about (80 minutes)
  2. Fry the vegetables - sauté the carrot, onion and celery with the garlic and herbs until soft
  3. Add the lentils - Stir for a little while to combine everything
  4. Add water - bring to a simmer and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes until cooked.
  5. Drain - drain the lentils and set aside.
  6. Simmer the sausage - Add the sausage to the pork and cook for 15 minutes to let it impart the smokiness into he cooking liquid.
  7. Add cooking liquid - Take a cup or so of the meat cooking liquid and stir into the lentils (to be safe, first check the liquid for saltiness and if it's very salty, dilute with a little water first). Season with pepper only (the salt from the pork will be plenty salt).
  8. Serve - Arrange a bed of lentils and break up a hunk of the pork and add a couple slices of sausage per person. I also like to add a little wedge of fat too. It's full of flavour, but granted not everyone's cup of tea, so ask first.
Salt pork in water with bay leaf and thyme for Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)
sautéing onion, carrot, celery and herbs for Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)
Adding the lentils to the soft vegetables for Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)
Adding water to cook the lentils for Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)
Draining the water from the cooked lentils for Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)
Adding the smoked sausage to the cooking salt pork for Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)
Adding a little of the cooking liquid to the cooked lentils for Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)
A bowl of lentils with flaked pork and smoked sausages, scattered with fresh parsley | Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)

Pro Tips to make your life easier

  • Salting your own pork is actually a very simple affair. There are full instructions in the recipe below, but it's just a matter of adding salt to water with a few aromatics and then leaving for 6-12 hours.
  • There's no need to soak puy lentils, just ensure you rinse them thoroughly with cold water and pick out anything that doesn't look like a lentil.
A bowl of lentils with flaked pork and smoked sausages, scattered with fresh parsley | Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)

Serving and storing suggestions

  • Serving - Salt pork with puy lentils is best served hot. Make a bed of lentils and top with flaked pork chunks and sausage (and perhaps a little fat!). Scatter the dish with fresh parsley or tarragon.
  • Sausages - Use smoked sausages like Andouille or Kielbasa, a cooked sausage that's ready to eat.
  • Lentil substitutions - If you can't get hold of puy lentils, use dried green lentils or brown lentils. Don't substitute with a can of cooked lentils - the flavour needs to be cooked into the lentils and pre-cooked with just turn to mush.
A bowl of lentils with flaked pork and smoked sausages, scattered with fresh parsley | Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)
  • Refrigeration - This dish will stay good in the fridge (in an airtight container) for a week. Add 1/4 cup water before reheating to avoid them drying up.
  • Freezing - You can freeze in bags or containers for 3+ months. Reheat from frozen or defrost and reheat either in a pan or microwave. In both cases, add a little water to avoid them drying up.

How to salt pork

Salting pork at home is easy. If you can't find any at the store, follow the simple brining steps to make your own.

 

  1. Place a slab of meaty pork belly into a deep bowl and cover it by 1-2 inches of cold water by using cup measures.
  2. Add 1tbsp of sea salt for every cup of water you used. e.g. 5 cups water = 5 tbsp salt. Remove the pork and stir the water to ensure the salt is all dissolved then return to the brine. Add a few aromatics like a 1 tbsp peppercorns, 1tbsp juniper berries, thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs, 1-2 bay leaves etc.
  3. Leave the pork in the fridge covered for 6-12 hours. No more than 24. Rinse the pork and you're good to start cooking.

Ready to get cooking?

What more can I say about the delicious Petit Sale? It's one of the world's greatest lentil dishes. packed with flavour and personality and a real winter warmer, or comfort food extravaganza!

A giant communal platter of salt pork with puy lentils never fails to impress at dinner time or for a French inspired home-style dinner party. A real tour de force!

Any Questions? (FAQ)

Have a question about Petit Sale?, let me know in the comments.

What is Petit Sale in English?

Petit Sale is 'salted pork'. Petit sale is a shortened name for Petit Sale aux lentilles (Salted pork with lentils).

Are Puy lentils the same as lentils?

Yes, Puy lentils are a small variety of lentils from France, often called French lentils, beluga lentils or black lentils.

A bowl of lentils with flaked pork and smoked sausages, scattered with fresh parsley | Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)

Salt Pork with Puy Lentils (Petit Sale aux Lentilles)

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5 from 1 vote
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Recipe by Lee
Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Diet Gluten Free
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 40 minutes
Soaking time6 hours
Total Time1 hour 40 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 1347

Ingredients

Instructions

Pre-soaking the pork

  • Most varieties outside France need to be pre-soaked. Fill a large bowl with cold water and soak the salt pork for 6 hours in the fridge. Drain the water and rinse the pork before using.
  • Add the pork to a large pot. Cover with cold water and add the bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Add the thick slices of sausages and cook for a further 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave in the broth.
  • While the pork is cooking melt 3 tbsp of the butter in a deep sauté pan over a medium heat until bubbling. Add the carrot, celery, half the diced onion and the garlic and fry gently for 4-5 minutes until soft. 
  • Add the bay leaf, thyme leaves, sage stem and rosemary along with the lentils and stir well to coat.
  • Pour in 4 cups water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes until the lentils are soft, but not breaking apart. Remove from the heat and drain the remaining liquid from the lentils. Fish out the herbs and discard then season with pepper. Set everything aside until the salt pork and sausage have finished cooking.
  • When cooked, remove the salt pork and sausages from the broth (keep the broth).
  • Test the salt pork broth for saltiness. If it's very salty, dilute with water until palatable. Add 1 cup of the cooking liquid to the lentils and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
  • In a bowl or plate make a layer of lentils and arrange a little flaked pork and sausage on top. If your pork has fat, add a little too - it's delicious! Scatter with some fresh parsley (optional) and serve hot.

Notes

How to salt/brine your own pork
Salting pork at home is easy. If you can't find any at the store, follow the simple brining steps to make your own.
  1. Place a slab of meaty pork belly into a deep bowl and cover it by 1-2 inches of cold water by using cup measures.
  2. Add 1tbsp of sea salt for every cup of water you used. e.g. 5 cups water = 5 tbsp salt. Remove the pork and stir the water to ensure the salt is all dissolved then return to the brine. Add a few aromatics like a 1 tbsp peppercorns, 1tbsp juniper berries, thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs, 1-2 bay leaves etc.
  3. Leave the pork in the fridge covered for 6-12 hours. No more than 24. Rinse the pork and you're good to start cooking.
Serving, storing and suggestions
  • Serving - Salt pork with puy lentils is best served hot. Make a bed of lentils and top with flaked pork chunks and sausage (and perhaps a little fat!). Scatter the dish with fresh parsley or tarragon.
  • Sausages - Use smoked sausages like Andouille or Kielbasa, a cooked sausage that's ready to eat.
  • Lentil substitutions - If you can't get hold of puy lentils, use dried green lentils or brown lentils. Don't substitute with a can of cooked lentils - the flavour needs to be cooked into the lentils and pre-cooked with just turn to mush.
  • Refrigeration - This dish will stay good in the fridge (in an airtight container) for a week. Add 1/4 cup water before reheating to avoid them drying up.
  • Freezing - You can freeze in bags or containers for 3+ months. Reheat from frozen or defrost and reheat either in a pan or microwave. In both cases, add a little water to avoid them drying up.

Nutrition

Calories: 1347kcal (67%) | Carbohydrates: 35g (12%) | Protein: 27g (54%) | Fat: 121g (186%) | Saturated Fat: 48g (300%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 54g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 175mg (58%) | Sodium: 3550mg (154%) | Potassium: 361mg (10%) | Fiber: 16g (67%) | Sugar: 3g (3%) | Vitamin A: 4218IU (84%) | Vitamin C: 25mg (30%) | Calcium: 80mg (8%) | Iron: 6mg (33%)
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