It's getting cold here in Montreal fast and I'm in full comfort-food-mode now. Last week I posted a recipe for braised lamb pasta because I was craving something rich & hearty. I'm keeping up the meat 'n starch theme of that last dish here. We added a bunch of hearty winter dishes on our new menu at Chez Ma Grosse Truie Cheri and this recipe is inspired by one of them. We are serving braised leg of lamb on a bed of Du Puy lentils with bacon. The lentils and bacon are so good that I decided to make some for myself at home. Because I just did braised lamb last week, I went with one of green lentil's other classic dancing partners: sausage. I already had my heart set on bacon, so why not throw in some veal sausage and salami too?
When I buy green lentils, I always go for the Du Puy variety, sometime labeled as "French lentils." They are smaller and darker than regular green lentils and I like them because I find their texture much better. You can cook them for longer without them getting mushy, and when they're still a bit of crunchy they are so delicious. Du Pu lentils a bit more expensive, but lentils are usually pretty cheap anyway, so it's worth the extra buck or two. Even though Du Puy lentils are a bit tougher, they are still easily overcooked, so you will have to keep a close eye on them if you want a perfectly-tender-but-not-too-soft texture.
As for which sausage to choose, there are lots of different kinds that would be good in this dish. Veal sausage is a pretty traditional accompaniment for lentils so that's what I went with here. Mergez or Italian sausage could work just as well. I like to use two different kinds, one fresh and one cured, to get a contrast of flavours and textures. For the fresh sausage I used Boudin Blanc or "white pudding." It's a French pureed white meat sausage that is basically a veal hotdog. The kind I used was pre-cooked. If you buy raw sausage, boil it for 8 minutes and then let it cool before slicing and sautéeing it. For the cured sausage I used an Italian Chianti salami. If want to keep things French, you could always go for Rossette de Lyon or any other sausisson.
Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 10 minutes Yields 4 appetizers or 2 main courses.
1 1/2 cups Du Puy Lentils
3 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 cup carrots, peeled & diced
1 cup onion, peeled & diced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups mushroom, quartered
100g bacon, chopped
150g veal sausage, halved lengthwise & sliced
150g salami, halved lengthwise & sliced
1/2 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoon white wine (optional)
1. Rinse the lentils and then place them in a pot with the carrots and 3 1/2 cups beef broth. Season with a couple pinches of salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer until most of the broth has been absorbed by the lentils, about 8 minutes.
2. While the lentils are cooking, place the bacon in a cold frying pan or wide-bottomed pot and place on medium-high heat. When the bacon starts to sizzle, add the onions.
3. Once the onions start to brown, add the mushrooms, followed by the sausage & salami. Sautee everything together until all the ingredients are nicely browned and then add the garlic. Sautee for one minute more and then deglaze with 2 tbs white wine or water. Season with salt & pepper.