it seems that old man winter has stretched his long, cold and sinewy fingers out to touch just about every corner of the country right now. here in central texas, we are the first to tell you we are cold weather wimps. we was made for growing tomatoes, jumping in the lake, and dropping ice cubes in our wine. our thin skins are now finely tuned for 100 degree days, not this stuff. so we shut down schools and roads, kick back and enjoy the homefires once again. at least for a few days.
the winter makes us thank our lucky stars for bowls of texas red, cases of ruby red grapefruit, and elgin hot smoked sausage. but we’re (not so) secretly hoping the chill doesn’t last too long.
hearty lentil stew with elgin smoked sausage (4-6 generous servings)
2-3 slices bacon, chopped into a large dice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery (the center stalks with leaves are most flavorful), chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried mexican oregano
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
red pepper flakes to taste
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (i used 3 fresh romas because it was what i had on hand)
2 smoked sausages, fully cooked and sliced (i used elgin hot smoked, dang it’s good!)
1 cup lentils (i used french green but feel free to knock yourself out with whatever)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, make your own!
a few tbsp of cilantro or parsley, chopped to finish/brighten up the stew
put your stock pot over a medium-low flame and add bacon. slowly render the fat from the bacon-this means melting the fat from the meat so you have a nice base in which to sweat your vegetables. when bacon is crisp, remove from pan and set aside. pour off all but 1 tbsp bacon grease from pot and turn the heat up to about medium. and add olive oil, and onion through leek. stir frequently and sweat vegetables, trying your best not to brown them, for about 4-5 minutes. add garlic, saute for about 1 minute more. toss in tomato paste, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes, gently stir spices into vegetable mixture for about a minute. then add tomatoes, sausage, lentils, and stock to pot and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer, stirring often for about an hour and fifteen minutes, or until the lentils are softened. check frequently, don’t overcook them or the whole mess will become mushy. pour yourself a nice glass of super texan or longhorn red and light the fireplace.
remove thyme stems, add chopped cilantro or parsley and reserved bacon and serve with freshly warmed, crusty french bread.
this is another in a series of let’s lunch posts. special shout-out to karen from geofooding. this stew’s for you–get well soon! check out what other have made for their ‘hearty stew’ lunches: