Le Petit Salé aux Lentilles always reminds me of my great-grandmother. She was attached to the vines and her vegetable patch. She was incredibly hard-working and she could still be found picking grapes way past her 80th birthday.
She was growing most of her fruit and vegetables and would always make made simple but tasty, homey, warming food. Her house was comfortable but she did not have central heating or hot water in her home. She would store coal in a bathtub. She would warm bricks to put at the bottom of the beds, to keep us comfortable in the cold months.
She was kind, funny and really down to earth. She loved children and I took my first ever loan with her. She paid for my bike when I was 11, and every time I had some money, from grape-picking, small chores like cleaning windows or birthday money, I would give it to her and my debt would diminish in her notebook. It took me about 18 months to pay for my bike and I was really proud of myself.
Enough ramblings… Le petit salé aux lentilles really feels like home and it makes me happy to share my recipe today. The gammon pulls apart easily, the sausages melt in your mouth and the vegetables are full of flavours. It tastes better the day after you have cooked it. I hope you like it!
Petit Salé aux Lentilles – Green Lentil Stew
- Unsmoked gammon joint
- 2 bay leaves
- A dozen peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
- 2 onions chopped
- two bacon rashers cut into small pieces
- 6 carrots peeled
- 6 good quality ‘free from’ sausages
- 500 g green Puy lentils
- 6 Charlotte potatoes peeled
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Place the rinsed gammon in a large casserole dish with the bay leaves and peppercorns. Cover with cold water and place on a high heat. Bring to the boil and simmer on a medium heat for 90 minutes. Keep aside and rinse the casserole dish.
- Melt butter (or warm oil) in the casserole dish and fry the onions for 3 minutes, stirring.
- Add the bacon bits and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring.
- Add the sliced carrots and sausages and cook for 20 minutes on a low heat, lid on, stirring regularly.
- Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear and add them to the casserole dish. Cover with water.
- Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cover.
- Cook on a low heat for 30 minutes, checking from time to time that there is enough liquid. If at any point the stew looks too dry, add boiling water.
- Add the potatoes, peeled and quartered, and the gammon. Season to taste and cook for a further 20 minutes.
- Serve with red wine and crusty bread or baguette.