I love Melissa Clark's cookbooks and her latest, Dinner in French: My Recipes by Way of France is another winner. The first recipe I decided to try was the Lentil Stew with Garlic Sausage and Goat Cheese. The goat cheese component intrigued me and I was really curious to see what Clark would do to make a simple lentil stew fresh and different.
The recipe calls for garlic sausage or kielbasa--I used a roasted garlic and gruyere chicken sausage because it seemed like it would work well given the other ingredients. I also did not use homemade stock which she says is preferred but not mandatory. I did manage to find French green lentils at my regular grocery store and despite the cost being double that of a bag of regular lentils I figured, why not? Glad I made that choice.
Thanks to Clark's introduction and charming recipe note I felt like I was channeling my inner Parisian with all these lovely ingredients in front of me, ready for the pot. This stew smells amazing not only while it's cooking, but each step along the way, as each ingredient layered on another flavor and scent. And the result? A-mazing. The salty tang of the goat cheese on top was such a beautiful complement to the earthy lentils. I couldn't help myself and had seconds.
Below is the recipe from Dinner in French: My Recipes by Way of France, bon appétit!
* Dinner in French: My Recipes by Way of France is an editors' pick for the best cookbooks of March.
Lentil Stew with Garlic Sausage and Goat Cheese
This cozy lentil stew, simmered with leeks and herbs and studded with springy pink sausages, would be completely traditional if it weren’t for the bits of goat cheese crumbled over the top at the end. I love the way the creamy, funky cheese gives the whole thing a quiet, salty complexity. It may be out of the ordinary, but it’s a hearty combination that’s deeply and wonderfully satisfying. French green lentils hold their shape better in stews like this, but regular brown lentils will work if that’s what you’ve got.
Serves 4 to 6
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
6 ounces garlic sausage or kielbasa, cut into bite-size rounds or chunks
2 small leeks (white and light green parts only), halved lengthwise, cleaned, and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika (or use a pinch of hot smoked paprika), plus more to taste
2 carrots, diced
1¾ cups French green lentils (lentilles du Puy) or brown lentils
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more to taste
5 sprigs fresh parsley, plus chopped fresh parsley leaves for serving
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 large bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
Fresh lemon juice, for serving
4 ounces goat cheese, diced, room temperature
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the sausage pieces and cook until they are browned and crispy, about 8 minutes, reducing the heat if necessary to prevent burning. Transfer the sausage to a paper towel–lined plate.
2. Reduce the heat to medium and stir the leeks into the pot. Cook until they are golden and soft, stirring occasionally and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot, about 10 minutes. Stir in the paprika and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute to bloom it (you should be able to smell it).
3. Stir in the carrots, lentils, stock, 3 cups of water, and the salt. Using kitchen twine, tie the sprigs of parsley, thyme, and rosemary, and the bay leaf into a bundle, and throw that in, too (or if you don’t have twine, just throw the herbs in the pot but be prepared to fish them out later). Partially cover the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. If the pot starts to dry out before the lentils are done, add a bit more water. Remove and discard the herb bundle.
4. Use an immersion blender to partially blend the stew. Don’t overdo it—it should stay fairly chunky. (You can also do this in a regular blender; just purée about a third of the lentil mixture, then return it to the pot.)
5. Stir the sausage back into the stew, add the garlic, and return it to a simmer; let it simmer for 2 minutes to meld the flavors, stirring frequently. Taste, and add lemon juice to taste and more paprika and salt if needed. Serve the stew topped with the goat cheese, a drizzle of oil, the chopped parsley, and a generous grinding of black pepper.
Stew: You can make the stew up to 3 days in advance. Let it cool and then and keep it, covered, in the refrigerator. Gently reheat it on the stove and serve it with the toppings.
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