This weekend I was pleased to host an East Coast friend who needed a place to crash before a business trip began. I wanted there to be hot food awaiting him, but it wasn’t clear when he’d arrive (airline delays, traffic, etc.). I also didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen and wanted—as much as possible—to use stuff that I have on hand. I tossed together something simple but tasty. What follows is the recipe…more or less.
This makes a lot of lentils. You’ll probably run out of sausage in the dish before you run out of lentils. Regardless, it’s all tasty and if nothing else it freezes very well.
- Covered Dutch oven, at least 5 qts
- 3 large leeks, white part only, very finely sliced
- 3 Tbl chicken fat (substitute another fat if you don’t have this; I keep it in the freezer from making chicken stock)
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups French green or beluga lentils
- 2 quarts (8 cups) homemade pork stock (yes, you could use store bought chicken stock; it won’t be as good; just sayin’)
- 8-12 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 8 highly spiced sausages (bratwurst-sized is best)
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 3 Tbl chicken fat (same caveat)
- Pre-heat oven to a max of 400°F. If you need the dish to cook more slowly, ratchet the temp down accordingly.
- Heat the fat in the Dutch oven until hot and shimmery.
- Add the leeks and sautée until soft.
- Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes until it gets slightly soft.
- Add the lentils, thyme and bay leaves and stir to combine with leeks and garlic.
- Add stock, sausages and a little salt (you’ll add more later) and bring to a boil. Try to keep the sausages submerged.
- Cover the Dutch oven and pop it into the pre-heated oven. Cook until the lentils are done. If you’re not close to serving yet then turn the oven way down and let it sit. Be careful not to let things get dry. Add more stock (or water, if you’ve no more stock handy) to keep it from drying out.
- Soon before removing from oven, mix the breadcrumbs and chicken fat.
- After the lentils are cooked and about 10 minutes before you’d like to serve it, remove the Dutch oven from the oven and crank up the heat to broil.
- Taste the lentils and add more salt if needed.
- Spread the breadcrumbs evenly over the lentils. Place the Dutch oven under the broiler just until the crumbs are browned and crisp.
- Serve. Om nom nom. (beware the bay leaves and thyme stems, which are still in there somewhere)
- Sure, you don’t have to use the chicken fat (a stock-making by-product) or pork stock. The dish will still be very, very tasty. But if you use the chicken fat and pork stock it really adds a third dimension to the meal which makes it both tasty and more satisfying.