February 15, 2008

Lentils & Sausages, Slater-Style

Last fall I made a lentils & sausages recipe from Nigella Bites, a recipe that says to cook the lentils with onion in water, cook the sausages separately with wine & garlic, then add the sausages “and their garlicky, winey gravy” to the lentils. Sounds good, right?

Not so much.

The lentils were bland, and the sausages didn’t create enough “garlicky, winey gravy” to add anything special. I don’t know if the recipe or my ingredients were to blame; I used standard supermarket-brand brown lentils & smoked turkey sausages with sun-dried tomatoes. I was so unimpressed with it that I didn’t even bother to blog about it.

I vowed to try another sausage & lentils recipe some day.

Well, that day was Tuesday.

I made “Sausages with Salami & Lentils” from The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater (the recipe featured on the cover of his book as pictured above), and this time I used green French puy lentils & fresh Italian sausages from Whole Foods.

Before I give you the recipe, let me explain how much I adore Nigel Slater. I read his memoir Toast last year, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. His writing is superb; his cookbooks read like fiction (seriously, I’ve read them cover-to-cover just as I would a novel); the pictures are breathtaking. If you are not familiar with Nigel Slater, I suggest The Kitchen Diaries (part journal, part cookbook, part food porn) & Appetite (a must-have cookbook).

What I love most about Slater’s writing is how he describes food. For example, he includes a recipe for “a lovely, wobbly mayonnaise” in Appetite. He loves preparing food, and it shows in his writing. He’s very inspiring.

Of his warming, satisfying take on lentils & sausage, he writes:

A rough-edged casserole that gives the impression of having been cooked for hours, but which is pretty much ready to eat in 45 minutes. You could put it in the oven if you prefer, in which case you should let it cook for about an hour at moderate heat. This is the sort of food I like to put on the table for Saturday lunch, with a bowl of rocket [arugula] salad by the side. Then you can swoosh the salad leaves around your plate to mop up the last bits of tomatoey lentil sauce. Serves 2 with seconds.

You'll need:

2 medium onions, peeled & cubed.
2 tablespoons olive oil.
2 garlic cloves, peeled & sliced thin.
6-7 ounces salami, peeled & cut into “fat matchsticks”.
12 ounces fresh Italian sausages. (I used four.)
3/4 cup green French lentils, rinsed.
1 3/4 cups crushed tomatoes.
2 cups water.
2 bay leaves.
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard (optional).
  • Warm the oil in a heavy-based casserole, add the onions and let them cook over a moderate heat until tender.
  • Meanwhile, peel the garlic, slice it thinly and add it to the onions. Stir regularly.
  • Add salami to the softening onions and leave for a couple of minutes, during which time the salami will darken slightly.
  • Start cooking the sausages in a nonstick pan. You only want them to color on the outside; they will do most of their cooking once they are in the sauce.
  • Tip the crushed tomatoes into the onions. (I love that Brit-speak!)
  • Add the lentils and stir in water. Bring to a boil.
  • Remove the sausages from their pan and tuck them into the casserole with the bay leaves. (I also added a pinch of dried oregano & thyme and some black pepper.)
  • Cover the pot with a lid and leave to simmer gently for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and cook an additional 10 minutes to reduce & thicken the sauce a bit. (Check to see if the lentils are soft.)
  • Stir the mustard (if using) into the lentils. Check for seasoning. You may find it needs little or no salt.
This stew was much better than the other version I tried. The cooked salami--while lending a smoky, rich flavor--developed a weird chewy texture. I'd suggest dicing the salami into smaller pieces. Next time, though, I'll use pancetta or bacon instead of the salami.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Howdy T&C VI Partner!