1) Make the lentils: Pick over the lentils, rinse and drain. Place the lentils along with the onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pork into a large 6L saucepan and cover with water by 5-8cm. Place over high heat and bring just to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid and discard the onion, garlic, bay leaf and salt pork. Stir in black pepper and taste for salt. Serve immediately.
Note from Alton: Those of you who watched this program on the 17th or 18th will want to disregard one particular suggestion I made regarding lentils: don't feed the left over onions to your dog. It turns out onions are not good for dogs in any shape or form. I'm grateful to the fans who emailed me after the airing for setting me straight on this nutritional peculiarity. As for my own dog's ability to digest onions, well...she's more hog than dog I guess.
2) Make the salad: Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper, parsley and thyme together in a large mixing bowl. Add the warm lentils and bacon and stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.