It doesn’t seem possible but my blog is one year old tomorrow! Last January I started writing it after spending a year reading other people’s food blogs. I decided that I wanted to be a part of this supportive community of fellow foodies. I haven’t been disappointed. You have all been fun to get to know and I can’t imagine my life without this connection. Even my very first post received a comment from my long ago cooking teacher and inspiration, Irena Chalmers. What a boost that was to my morale. My dear son, Michael, also supported my first efforts and my daughter-in-law Kristen has become a contributor to this space, as she is also an excellent cook.
Another one of my inspirations has always been Julia Child who started the cooking revolution and sparked my interest from the very beginning. So in honor of my bloggiversary I made her Lentilles garnies; lentilles en cassoulet, found in From Julia Child’s Kitchen.
This dish is brilliant. Cassoulets usually take hours to cook and involve many cuts of meat and layering of flavors. This dish can be done in much less time. I used only sausages in the dish. Also, lentils cook much faster than dried white beans. The recipe is brilliant because she extracted so much flavor from it by mellowing it in wine and a mirepoix of vegetables and a reduction of the meat juices. It was hardy and filling on a cold blustery day. David, my in house supporter, fixed his sourdough baguettes on the hearth grill to go along with it.
LENTIL CASSOULET (From Julia Child’s Kitchen)
Given a preliminary blanching, a simmering with wine and seasonings, then a topping of pork or sausages, lentils make a wonderful main dish. Serve with French bread, a green salad, and a strong young red wine such as Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, or Mountain Red.
2 cups of washed lentils ( I used a 1 1b. bag )
6 cups water
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. meat cut into serving chunks: homemade or Italian or Polish sausages and /or pork shoulder butt, ham, country spareribs, or lamb shoulder. ( I used a combination of sausages )
About 2/3 cup mirepoix (1/2 cup each finely diced carrot, onion, and celery cooked until tender in 3 Tbs butter or oil), in a medium saucepan
3 Tb butter
1/2 cup red or white wine ( I used red )
1 1/2 cups ham stock or beef broth ( I used beef broth )
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme or oregano
Salt and pepper
3 Tb minced shallots or scallions
3 Tb minced parsley
1/4 cup fresh white bread crumbs ( I used Panko crumbs )
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the washed lentils in a 3 quart saucepan, and add the water and bring to just below the simmer. Maintain at just below the simmer for 30 minutes, adding a little boiling water if necessary, until lentils are barely tender. Meanwhile, dry the chunks of meat in paper towels, spread in a roasting pan, and brown in the upper middle level of preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, turning the meat and basting occasionally with accumulated fat and juices in the pan. Prepare the mirepoix also, and when done, blend in the flour, cook slowly, stirring, for 2 minutes, and remove from heat; beat in the wine, then the stock and simmer 5 minutes, add the herbs to this sauce, and correct seasonings.
Choose a baking dish such as a 9″ by 12″ oval 2″ deep, and butter it lightly. Fold the lentils and sauce together, and spread in the baking dish. Arrange the browned meat on top, pushing the pieces into the lentils. Pour fat from roasting pan into a small bowl, and deglaze pan with a little wine or broth (pour in the liquid, set over heat, and scrape coagulated meat juices into liquid with a wooden spoon, boiling rapidly until liquid is syrupy); pour over the meat. Season meat lightly with salt and pepper; sprinkle the shallots or scallions, parsley, and bread crumbs over all. Baste with 2 spoonfuls of fat reserved from the roasting pan.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for about 40 minutes until sauce is thick and bubbling hot, and crumbs are nicely browned.
Now for the giveaway. Because I appreciate all of you so much. I am giving one lucky winner a copy of My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme.
This was the book that was consulted for Julia’s part of the movie “Julie and Julia” and chronicles Julia’s life from the time she arrived in France and had her first food epiphany over Sole Meuniere.
All you have to do to win is leave a comment telling me what your food epiphany was or what your favorite food is. I will select a winner the old fashioned way by putting all of your names in a hat and announce the winner on Monday Jan. 11th. You have until midnight Sunday Jan. 10th to enter.
Good luck and thank you. I wish I could give every one of you a book. Just know that I appreciate all of you and couldn’t do what I love so much without you.