Lentilles aux saucisses (serves 4)
When I lived in Paris last year, three of my friends somehow managed to establish themselves as my surrogate children. I used to cook for them every night in my tiny studio apartment (call me Rachel Khoo). They used to refer to my room as Chez Chaz. Cooking became a bit of an obsession of mine in Paris and forms a huge part of why that year will remain very dear to me. It brings me a quite sad amount of pleasure that I can continue to pretend I am the proprietor of a classy French bistro by writing this column under the name Chez Chaz.
The dish I am starting with is this simple lentil and sausage stew. It became the signature dish of Chez Chaz, enjoyed because of its simplicity and stalwart meatiness. I have decided to ordain it with an unnecessarily pretentious French name not because it is a French classic (it isn’t) but because of its personal significance to me as a reminder of my year abroad. I hope it brings you as much joy as it did me and my friends.
12 sausages (I tend to use chipolatas, in which case you may need to use more)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 glass of red wine
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 tins of lentils
Cup of frozen peas
1tsp chopped thyme or rosemary (if using dried, add ½ tsp)
Parsley (optional garnish)
In a deep pan, pour in a bit of olive oil. When the pan is hot enough, add the sausages. Stir often enough that they brown without burning. You want nice caramelisation on the bottom of the pan because it ensures the sauce has a rich meaty flavour. Take the sausages out once browned, turn down the heat and add in the onion. Stir occasionally for about 3-5 minutes before adding in the garlic. After a minute, add in the red wine. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan so that it is completely ‘deglazed’ (all the brown bits have been mixed into a sauce). Add the tomatoes, followed by the two tins of drained lentils (reserving some of the liquid to add to the sauce). Add back the sausages and bring to a gentle simmer, adding some water if needed to cover the sausages. Stir in the thyme or rosemary, and season with salt and pepper to taste (be careful because sausages can be quite salty). Stir the stew occasionally to ensure the lentils don’t get stuck to the bottom of the pan. After about 10-15 minutes (enough to cook the sausages), add in the frozen peas and allow to cook through for 2-3 minutes. Serve with crusty bread or potatoes and garnish with parsley if desired.