|sausage and lentil stew|
A sausage and lentil stew is a forgiving recipe so long as you ensure you use good quality sausages and a good stock, because the lentils soak up a lot of flavour. But by adding onions, garlic and herbs, you've got the basis of a really good meal.
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's version contains prunes and puy lentils. (He also refers to his a hotpot - although to my mind, a hotpot has to be topped with thinly sliced spuds.) My version has tomatoes for sweetness, a few mushrooms for hearty flavour and green lentils rather than puy. I also replaced some of the chicken stock with some leftover gravy from Sunday's roast.
In keeping with my peasant tastes, this meal is perfect washed down with a good ale or cider.
sausage and lentil stew
(adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's Sausage and Lentil Hotpot)
Skill level: Easy
2 tbsp olive oil
2 x English, finely chopped
1 x garlic clove, very finely chopped
2 x carrots, peeled and diced
2 x celery stems, diced
125g chestnut (or field) mushrooms, quartered and sliced
100g tomatoes, diced
2 x bay leaves
1 x sprig fresh thyme
2 x rashers of smoked streaky bacon (or pancetta), diced
8 x good quality sausages
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
150g green lentils
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, finely chopped (to serve)
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and gently cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the chopped garlic and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
- Tip in the carrots, celery and mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme. Cover and gently cook for 10 minutes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and gently fry the chopped bacon. When the bacon has browned, remove with a slotted spoon (leaving as much bacon fat in the pan as possible) and put the bacon in with the vegetables. Add the sausages to the pan and brown all over, before adding these to the vegetable mixture.
- Deglaze the frying pan with a little stock or water and then pour into the casserole. (Make sure you scrape all of the tasty piggy bits.)
- Tip in the lentils and the remaining stock. The liquid should just about cover the contents of the saucepan barely - add more water or stock if necessary. Bring to the boil, and then simmer. Cover and cook for about 1 hour. Stir occasionally and check the liquid levels, making sure the stew doesn't dry out.
- Season to taste and serve with a little chopped parsley.
- Serve with sautéed potatoes or a baked potato.
- Buttered spinach or some steamed Savoy cabbage is a winning accompaniment.
- Add any leftover gravy from your Sunday roast for extra flavour.
- If the bacon is particularly fatty, I cut off the fat and render it down first before adding the chopped bacon. Yet again, it is just another way of making sure that nothing is wasted and the stew is imbued with more flavour.
- The leftover lentils were even nicer the next day!