These uncomplicated, straight-talking sausages, where the pork is allowed to shine, are an obvious match for these rustic lentils and cavolo nero.
I’m not sure exactly why, so don’t ask, but to me this dish screams of a jolly midweek supper during the winter months – almost certainly best enjoyed with a glass or two of red wine. These sausages are a great advert for simplicity. Coarsely mince pork, cut from the shoulder and belly for the perfect fat ratio and flavour profile, given a subtle lift with some carefully chosen spices, administered with the most delicate of touches. One for the purists and certain to sit proudly on top of this pile of rich and complex lentils.
Coarse sausages, lentils & cavolo nero
250g cavolo nero, washed
- For the lentils
2 carrots, finely diced
2 sticks of celery, finely diced
1 large onion, finely diced
¼ celeriac, peeled and finely diced
3 cloves of garlic
175ml red wine
400g puy lentils
600ml homemade chicken stock
bouquet garni of thyme, sage leaves, and bay leaves
- For the lentils:
- Take a large, heavy-bottomed pan and place on a medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the lardons. Stirring regularly, let them brown whilst also rendering out their fat.
- Once browned and swimming in lovely fat, add the onions, carrots, garlic, celery, celeriac, and a good pinch of salt. Cook this with a lid on, over a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. You want the veg to be really soft and just beginning to colour a little.
- At this point, add the lentils and the red wine. Bring the wine to the boil and then simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the chicken stock, herbs and 3 more tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, plus another pinch of salt.
- Allow this to come up to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If at any point it is looking a bit dry, then add a dribble more chicken stock.
- Check the lentils to see if they are cooked. They should have almost no bite left to them – in our opinion not something you want al dente – but not yet turning to a mush. Cook for longer if required, again topping up with stock if necessary.
- Adjust the seasoning and add a little splash of a good red wine or sherry vinegar.
- To cook the sausages:
- Preheat the oven to 150°C.
- As these sausages have no rusk to bind them, they require a slightly more delicate touch. A fierce heat will likely cause them to explode. Take a pan or cast-iron skillet and place over a medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and then the sausages. Turn the heat down a touch, cook the sausages on one side for 4-5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
- Flip again and place the sausages in the oven for a further 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and set to one side.
- To serve:
- Bring a pan of salted water to the boil.
- Roughly chop the cavolo nero, removing any tough, woody ends to the stalks.
- Blanch in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes.
- Drain well, and then dress simply with olive oil and salt.