Tuesday, 18 October 2011

hearty lentil stew

All that's needed is a sausage or two!

Lentils bring to mind that very traditional French 'peasant' cooking.

I adore it and thank god there is that chill in the air now, so we can get back on the stews again.

A warmth that pummels straight to your bones!

It makes me remember a trip to Cluny, in the Burgundy region about 8 years ago. Minus 2 weather. Bitter, crisp, fresh cold. Numb fingers and toes. A steaming hot brasserie. A glass of hot mulled wine. A plate of sausage and bean casserole. A sing song in the corner.

I was actually meant to make a soup, but I let it reduce so much, it turned out far better!
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • strips of pancetta, chopped (I used a whole packet)
  • 1/2 tube of tomato puree
  • 4-5 new potatoes, halved
  • 250g dry green lentils
  • 1 pint of water(to start)
  • salt and pepper
  • optional extras (red wine, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves)
In a deep thick based casserole dish, on a medium heat, cook the onion for a few minutes, and then add the chopped carrot, celery and garlic and saute until the onion is soft. Then add the pancetta and continue to cook for a few more minutes until golden. Add the tomato puree and lentils and stir through before adding the water. Make sure you bring it to the boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and leave for a good 30 minutes. Add the halved new potatoes, and salt and pepper. Check the liquid level. If it at any point starts to look too dry then add some more water. You want to then leave this to simmer for at least an hour and end up with a rich thick sauce.

Of course, if you have any other ingredients please use them. At the liquid stage, add in a generous helping of red wine if you like, and some thyme and rosemary. I made this on a Sunday night without these, but it tastes just as good. The slow cooking ensures you drain every inch of flavour from every single ingredient.

Good on its own or with a couple of good quality sausages.

Bon appetit!

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