The smell of these lentils cooking had the neighbours walking past the house in a trance like state.  Slow cooked and  flavour packed with smoked bacon and an abundance of herbs and garlic,  paired with butcher made, fat juicy sausages……this was peasant food at its absolute finest!  There is something to be said for the simple things……

Prep time:   15 minutes            Cooking time:    1 hour 10 minutes          $ Low budget

Serves 4-6

Olive oil for frying

6-8 good quality Lamb and Rosemary Sausages (Ours were huge so 1 each was fine but you may need 2)*

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large brown onion, finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

2 sticks of celery, finely diced

100gm of speck, smoked bacon or pancetta, cut into lardons (little batons)

6 thyme sprigs

2 rosemary sprigs

2 bay leaves

2 cup of french green lentils

2 tbs of balsamic vinegar

1 cup of dry red wine

2-21/2 cups of salt reduced beef stock

2 tbs of chopped fresh parsley

20gm of butter

Sea salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Lemon Wedges to serve

Heat a large, heavy based frypan and add a little oil.  Brown the sausages on all sides until golden and pretty much cooked through.  Set aside to cool before slicing them diagonally.

In the same pan add the speck and fry until crispy and golden, add the onion and garlic and continue to fry until the onion is soft.  Grab a piece of kitchen string and tie the thyme and rosemary sprigs and the bay leaves in a nice little bundle and add to the pan before popping in the carrot and celery.  Fry for a further 4-5 minutes until the veggies are starting to become tender and the herbs are releasing their heady aroma.  The neighbours should be looking a little odd by now;)

Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar, this will help to lift all those golden, flavour packed sticky bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add the lentils and wine and allow the wine to reduce by half before pouring in 2 cups of the beef stock.  Stir well to combine, reduce the heat to low and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Leave to braise for approximately 50 minutes to 1hour lifting the lid every 10 minutes or so to give the lentils a stir and add a little more stock if you think the mixture looks a little dry. The lentils are ready when you can squeeze them easily between you thumb and forefinger.  Remove the herb stalks and stir through the sliced sausages, parsley and butter in a nice folding motion so that you don’t mush up the lentils too much. Reserve some of the parsley for garnish.

Divide the lentils and sausages between 4-6 serving plates (or save the leftovers for lunch as we did), sprinkle over a little parsley, drizzle with olive oil and serve with lemon wedges and steamed greens of your choice.

*You could use any kind of sausage, Italian pork and fennel or just a good quality Beef sausage.  This is really about the side of lentils, feel free to use whatever you like!