Archive for December 15th, 2008

Comment d’une petite leçon française aujourd’hui ? Commençons avec cette expression – “Combien aimez-vous de bons plats cordiaux au milieu de la fraîcheur d’hiver ?”

Pour moi, je les aime de toute son âme. Et maintenant, en arrière à l’anglais.


Did I confuse you?? Were you thinking that I had somehow traversé le grand étang et s’est attaché au Français ? No, I haven’t suddenly defected from the US to the land of the Auvergne, with pork sausages, artisan gourmet cheeses and puy lentils, I just jumped all over a recipe I found and made a decidedly French country dish. It’s simple: Sausages with French Green Lentils.

But oh dear, it was so très magnifique. I wanted to be sitting by a huge stone fireplace with a jug of red wine wearing a thick sweater as I ate my first bowl of this hearty dish.  It hails from the Auvergne region of France, directly in the center of the country and dotted with deep valleys and extinct volcanoes. It is also home to some of France’s most rustic cooking.

Me being the armchair traveler that I am have not just returned from a quick trip; I did, however, just close the pages of the November issue of Saveur magazine which takes me monthly to some amazing destinations, introducing me to authentic and unique cuisine. It could be my imagination, but lately it seems that the recipes in the magazine are getting a bit more congenial; they’re not as extensive as they used to be requiring ingredients I couldn’t possibly obtain and procedures that devour the better part of a day or two. Some still do, yes, but I have actually earmarked several for consideration, and this one had a particularly strong siren call. It helped slightly that I have lately been just a tad crazy for the tiny french green lentil. The recipe also called for bacon, hereto a match made in my own personal culinary heaven. There is little, in my eyes, that doesn’t benefit from the addition of good smoky bacon.

It’s a simple dish to put together too, only requiring a decent chunk of time to simmer on the stove. But the advantage to this is that it fills your house with a mouth-watering and hugely comforting smell and makes the blustery and snowy near-zero temperature outside seem pithy. As do love winter, and the snow but I do have some limits. Hearty fare like this takes the edge off quickly, warming me from the inside. It makes a nice quantity too, perfect for putting up in the freezer or sharing with a group of grateful, chilly friends.

Saucisses aux lentilles du Puy
Saveur magazine, November 2008

2 oz. smoked bacon, thinly
sliced crosswise
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
4 sprigs thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
12 oz. green Puy lentils,
rinsed and drained
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly
ground black pepper, to taste
8 fresh pork sausages, such as
sweet Italian sausages
1 cup white wine
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1. Cook bacon in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat, until its fat has rendered, about 6 minutes. Add butter, onions, carrots, and celery; cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Tie parsley, thyme, and bay leaves together with kitchen twine; add to pan. Stir in lentils and 5 1⁄2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Discard herbs. Stir in mustard and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring sausages, wine, and 1 cup water to a boil in a 12″ skillet over high heat. Cook, turning sausages occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, 12–15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; add oil. Cook sausages until browned, 6–7 minutes. Serve the sausages over the lentils.

My lentils were not cooked as I like even after all the liquid had been absorbed. As I was simmering the sausages right alongside the lentils, I poured some of the water from that into the lentils. It added a delicious touch with the wine. I ended up adding quite a bit to the lentils.

I did not use pork sausage as I am not a huge fan of it. I used chicken sausages that are low in fat, and after the remaining water/wine liquid evaporated, I browned them in the pan before serving them with the lentils. They were divine.


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