Grub up

8.9.12 § 6 commentarii

I don't post enough about food qua food. Plenty of bitching about cooking it for people I don't much like, but not all that much about actual food. While this is never going to be a recipe blog (I lack the appropriate camera skills), it would be remiss of me as a chef to not include the occasional recipe.

So here is something from this weekend's specials board:

Braised saucisson sec with lentils and caramelised apple

You will need:

  • about two inches of saucisson sec, or similar dried sausage
  • a handful of lentils, maybe 150g? Use lentilles vertes or Puy lentils, not the nasty red things hippies eat. Soak them overnight, or for a few hours before you intend on eating them.
  • a clove of garlic.
  • half an onion.
  • a couple of cèpes. Fresh, for preference, although dried and reconstituted also works. In extremis, normal field mushrooms work, but avoid the fancy Asian shit.
  • a good glug of a decent red wine
  • thyme. As much as you can stand.
  • veal stock. Or beef stock, if you're not in the habit of making your own.
  • half an apple.
  • maybe 100g of sugar? Possibly less.

(This is actually how chefs work. I have yet meet a chef who will religiously measure out ingredients instead of just eyeballing them. This is why we don't all have lucrative cookbook deals; and why those of us who do get ghost writers in to actually do the testing and measuring minutiae.)

What you need to do:

Dice your onion and slice your sausage, the latter on the bias to a thickness of about three millimetres. A pound coin. Any thicker and the sausage is a bit chewy, thinner than this and it burns too quickly. Chuck both in a frying pan over a medium heat with some low-grade pomace and sauté. Sliver your clove of garlic and chuck it in after a couple of minutes. This is also an appropriate point to add your thinly sliced cèpes. Sauté for a further few minutes until the garlic and onion begins to colour, then add the lentils. Muck it about a bit. Use some of that wristy motion and toss the whole lot like you're some kind of pro.

Glug in the wine (actually, no, if you've got it lying around, use vermouth. Not the sweet kind, obviously. That'd be wrong. Or use beer. It gives a really interesting dimension to the finished dish. Just don't use a nasty beer like Budweiser.) and let reduce for a few minutes. Add in enough veal stock to cover the whole to a depth of about half a centimetre. Add the thyme: a good pinch or so. Enough that you can taste it. Obviously fresh thyme, the dried stuff is of the devil and sticks between your teeth unpleasantly. Perhaps a quick squirt of tomato purée would not be contraindicated at this point. Cover and allow to simmer over a low heat for about fifteen to twenty minutes, or until the lentils are tender. You might need to top up the liquid occasionally. Use water for this, not stock, otherwise it will go salty.

Meanwhile, take your apple and core it. Then cut it about a bit artistically. I slice it thinly horizontally, giving pleasing rings of apple. But you can be a bit butch and cut it into wedges. Either works. Take another pan and put the sugar in it. It should be a fairly small pan, as you're not caramelising that much. Sprinkle over the merest suggestion of water and place it over a medium heat. Allow the sugar to caramelise to a very light brown: just after it stops bubbling, basically. Because you're not a big girl, you do not fear hot sugar and throw your apple slices/segments in with insouciant abandon. Muck them about a bit in the pan (do not stir vigorously: you are not attempting to make candy floss.), ensuring that the apples are fully coated in the caramel.

By now, your sausage-mushroom-lentil mix should be ready: glistening invitingly in the pan, with only the merest of liquid sheen over the lentils. If it sticks to the bottom of the pan, you should have added more liquid earlier. This weekend I've been finishing it with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. So do that and then serve over a couple of thick slices of toasted sourdough. Garnish with the caramelised apples, and perhaps something peppery and leafy. Rocket is my normal standby, but at this time of the year it tends to be a bit grim. You can sort yourself out at this point really. Cress isn't actually a bad shout.

Serve with something red and full of body. An agressive wine.

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§ 6 Response to “Grub up”

  • Frenchie says:

    I like this sort of recipe. Normally they appear to be written for dominatrix engineer types, but this is sparkles with turns of phrase such as 'insouciant abandon'.

  • This sounds great, will definitely be making this soon. Have not seen a cèpe since 1978 (in France) though.

  • Deiniol says:

    Jacques: this is why they should let chefs actually write recipes as they're cooked in professional kitchens, I feel. Escape the tyranny of the recipe book! Break free of the bondage of metric conversion tables!

    Steve: it's what we fashionable types are calling porcini mushrooms these days. Compare the changeover from "sundried tomatoes" to "sunblush tomatoes" circa 1998.

  • I didn't know cepes and porcini were the same thing. Glad you enlightened me as I'm violently allergic to them.

  • Deiniol says:

    That's aweful. Is it just porcini/cepes, or is it a general mushroom allergy?

  • Only porcini, fortunately, but it has made me wary of trying any mushrooms other than the bog standard.

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