It’s 6 p.m. on the first day of spring in Chicago, and it’s still snowing and the wind is still blowing at 30 mph. But being the crazy, glass-half-full kind of gal that I am, I decided to give it a big, fat hug and make a big, luscious pot of Merguez sausage and French LePuy lentils (they’re cute little lentils and don’t need soaking). And because I always wonder how my blog partner, the Lazy Cook (aka, the “anti-cook”) would interpret my crazy cooking efforts, I will you this: I think she’d open a can of franks and beans and call it a day. (“Nooo!”)
So after traipsing in the snow and wind to not one but three butcher shops for Merguez sausage (a French-style lamb sausage seasoned with roasted red peppers), I set to work. Crank up your own iPod, crack open a good bottle red and try it yourself. At least you’ll get a good meal out of a crappy weather day!
French Lentils with Merguez Sausage (adapted from Florence Fabricant)
8 sun-dried tomatoes
1 Tbl extra virgin Olive oil
1 lb (or an eight-pack) of Merguez sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 C chopped onion (any color will work)
1/2 C chopped carrot
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1.5 tsp smoked paprika
2 C of French LePuy lentils
6 C. chicken stock
Salt and pepp
3/4 C Panko bread crumbs (Japanese style, slivered, extra-crisp bread crumbs)
1 Tbl dried thyme, or 2 Tbl fresh thyme leaves
What You Do
Put sun-dried tomatoes in bowl and cover w/ boiling water to soften them. Set them aside to get all squishy and soft. Pre-heat oven to 300F.
Heat oil in a cast-iron casserole (one that can go into the oven) and brwon the sausage for, oh, about 15 minutes. It’s gonna render a lot o’ fat, don’t panic – you’re getting rid of most of it. When the sausage is all brown and delicious-looking, take it out with a slotted spoon onto a plate. Carefully pour most of the oil out, leaving just a slick in the pan.
Now, add your carrot, onion and garlic and stir it about til it gets soft – about 10 minutes or so. Add the cumin and smoked paprika and about a tsp of salt and a few good grinds of pepp. Add lentils and stir, and add the sausage back in and stire. Drain your sun-dried tomatoes and mince them into slives and add those in. Now dump in your stock. Shove the whole lot, uncovered, into the oven for an hour, until the lentils are nice and tender. Check for salt and pepp and re-season if you want.
When lentils are done, crank up the oven to 450. Spread your panko- parsley mixture over the top like a nice, crunchy blanket and blast it in the oven for about 20 minutes til the crumbs are browned. Serve with a nice, little green salad and forget that spring overslept.