Chef Jesse Vergen, Saint John Ale House, Saint John, NB
Smoked Green Lentils with Wild Sorrel, Lovage, Sprouted Red Lentils, Dark Harbor Dulse and Pickled Rhubarb
Jesse harvests New Brunswick with wild abandon and an infectious smile. He’ll forage for the sheep’s sorrel and grow the lovage himself in his greenhouse. The dulse is harvested from slippery intertidal rocks on Grand Manan in Dark Harbour, named because its shore is in the shade of high cliffs till late in the morning. The seaweed, also known as ‘red laver’ is then dried in an island meadow paved with beach cobblestones.
Equipment Needed (if applicable): smoker, sprouter or cheese cloth and a mason jar (for sprouting)
- 4 oz whole red lentils
- water, as needed for soaking
- 4 oz rhubarb, cut into 10” strips
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lb green lentils
- 4 cups water
- 2 tsp salt (second amount)
- apple wood chips, as needed
- 2 tbsp rendered bacon fat (Smoked Paprika Oil for those that don’t like bacon)
- 2 oz New Brunswick dulse
- 1/3 cup duck fat or sunflower oil
- 1 cup wild sheep sorrel, minced
- 1 cup lovage leaves, minced
To sprout Lentils:
- 1 cup of dried green, lentils
- 1 quart Mason jar with the screw top
- Fresh water
- A small piece of mesh screen about 4” by 4”
Place the lentils in the Mason jar. Cover the jars mouth with the screen then screw on the ring leaving the lid off and anchoring the mesh.
Place the jar under a stream of cool running water and rinse for a minute or two. Fill the jar with water and rest overnight as the dried seeds absorb water and rehydrate.
In the morning drain the jar thoroughly and rinse the lentils with lots of water once again, but this time drain thoroughly and rest the Mason jar on its side.
Rinse and drain the lentils twice a day until the sprouts are about ½ inch long with small green leaves forming on the ends, about three to four days.
Remove the screen and replace the lid on the jar and store them in the fridge. They will keep for about a week.
To pickle Rhubarb:
To make pickled rhubarb, place vinegar, honey and 1 tsp/5 g salt in non-reactive pot and bring to a boil. While pickling brine is cooling, with a sharp knife or mandolin, cut rhubarb into very thin strips and then store strips in liquid up to 24hrs.
To smoke the Lentils:
To smoke the green lentils, rinse the green lentils well under cold running water, drain and place in a pot with 4 cups /1L of water, add 2 tsp salt (the second amount) then bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. When tender, drain and cool lentils quickly under cold running water. Drain again and transfer to a towel lined tray to absorb excess moisture.
Transfer to a baking sheet that will fit into your smoker and cold smoke for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Just before serving, warm the bacon fat in a skillet or saucepan and add ¼ cup of the rhubarb ‘brine”. Dress the lentils with this mixture, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve at room temperature.
Pan fry dulse in duck fat until crisp and colourful.
To finish, divide warm seasoned lentils among four plates (flat and even), and spread garnishes across lentils, starting with sprouts, then pickled rhubarb strips (snaked around sprouts), followed by sorrel, lovage, and crisped dulse.
Yield: 4 servings.
Chef Jesse Vergen
St. John Ale House, Saint John, NB
Jesse Vergen is New Brunswick’s most recognized Chef. He has made his mark by utilizing New Brunswick’s untapped bounty of small farms and fisherman as a base for his progressive pub food. Produce from the farm is readily eaten up by the hungry diners of the Saint John Ale House were Jesse has been the Executive Chef for the past seven years and has won many accolades during that time. Jesse’s world is food, whether he’s in the kitchen de-boning heads from his Tamworth/Berkshires, on the tractor harrowing last year’s cover crops, fly fishing the magnificent Kennebecasis River for striped bass, or hunting Ducks in the coastal marshes -flavor is always on his mind.