Great for: Cozy dinner, company/groups
Ever since I had the pleasure of enjoying (going totally gaga for!) the lentils and sausage entrée at Les Pyrenees in Old Montreal I have been on the hunt for a recipe to try to replicate the sublime cozy tastes of that dish. After trying a few, this one is my current favorite. I just made it again last week and decided I had to share with you.
The dish is incredible silky and texturally interesting with layer upon layer of intense flavor. It is such a warm and hearty dish it will make any chilly gloomy day better…in fact you may look forward to such days so you have an excuse to make this dish! Not that you really need an excuse. It is also fairly easy to make and lasts well in the fridge for days! I like eating it with fresh bread, such as a french batard.
The original recipe is from a blog, Becks & Posh, and I have tweaked it just slightly as I found the original slightly acidic and I like to cook my lentils slightly longer, requiring more chicken broth. I also like extra sauce for mopping up with bread. I do use Toulouse sausage as she suggests in the original recipe – it is a mild garlicky sausage. Given how she touted the amazingness of Fatted Calf sausages, I made sure to get some to try with my first batch along with some of their bacon. Just hunting them down was part of the fun. However, I have to say, I was not thrilled with the sausages, there was something about their flavor that I didn’t love but the overall dish was still heavenly. I have since tried Toulouse sausages from Fabrique’s Delices which I can get at our local Palo Alto farmer’s market. They are the winner, the sausages have amazing flavor and are perfect for this dish. If you can’t find Toulouse sausage, mild Italian sausage would be a fine substitute. That said, Fatted Calf bacon has completely won me over, its deep flavor and thick cut stand up so well with this preparation adding another layer of great flavor. If you can get your hands on some, you really should! If you are in the San Francisco area, they have a stand at the Ferry Building farmer’s market and the Berkeley Farmer’s marketing on Saturdays and let you place special orders through their website. They have store fronts at the Oxbow Public Market in Napa, and in Hayes Valley. We had a great time visiting it on our trip up to Napa a few weeks ago, and we of course, brought home some bacon.
Lentils and Sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 medium onion, decided
5 cloves garlic, roughly minced
1 cup green lentils
2 bay leaves (if using fresh, use 3)
a few fronds of parsley tied together
2 cups low sodium chicken stock + another 2 cups to add in later as needed
1 cup tomato juice (tomato sauce works fine too)
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups red wine
4 fat sausages
6 rashers of bacon, cut into bite-sized portions
salt and pepper to season
chopped parsley to garnish
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion and garlic and cook slowly until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the washed lentils and stir for a couple of minutes until they are fully coated with oil. Add the tomato juice, salt, first 2 cups of chicken stock, parsley, bay leaf, parsley and red wine. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for an hour. Remove the bay leaves and parsley.
In another large skillet fry the bacon and sausages in their own fat until lightly golden. Slice the sausages into fat, bite-sized chunks and add them, the bacon and all (or some) of the fat they rendered to the lentil mixture. Add however much fat you feel comfortable with. I never add all of it as I feel it will make the dish too greasy, but I do add a generous amount since it is full of great flavor. Cook for a further 15 minute. Add some more chicken stock if you want to loosen up the mixture and continue cooking for another 15-30 minutes. Keep adding chicken stock if you feel it is getting too thick. Just go with your gut on how much stock you need to add, the recipe is very forgiving. If you add too much, just cook it a bit longer to reduce. If you do let it reduce a lot be sure to taste it and add some water if it gets too salty – that is also why it is important to use low sodium chicken broth.
Check again for seasoning and add salt or pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley to serve up with some great bread.
This is also a great recipe for company since you can make it ahead and leave it on the stove on simmer until you are ready to serve. Just be sure to have some of that extra chicken stock nearby to top it off if it gets dry and check for seasoning, adding a little water if it starts to get too salty.