Leaning decidedly French, a big pot full of Lentil Sausage & Bacon Casserole, a one pot meal that takes two pots to make, but who’s counting?!
Inspired by a couple of links of mild veal-herb sausage, this can be make with any sausage you like. Add a bit of kick with a smokey, spicy andouille or a hint of eastern block heartiness with a chunk of kielbasa. Lentils work so well against sausages, and they’re so quick to make.
Lentils, even dried lentils, cook in about 22 minutes after they’re rinsed. A little extra liquid makes a tasty sauce, soaked up by crispy garlic-y toasted breadcrumbs layered on top.
The bacon we boil off, to make it melt-in-your-mouth tender, remove excess salt, impurities and fat. But we keep the flavored broth we boil it in, fortified with a bay leaf peppercorns and thyme, so we still have all the flavor and the smoke from our extra thick, double smoked bacon.
Even with the extra pot, and the boiling of the bacon, this is a meal in less than 60 minutes.
Lentil Sausage & Bacon Casserole – Recipe
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves – six
7 – 10 slices of thick cut, double smoked bacon
5 cups cold water
2 bay leaves
10 – 15 whole peppercorns
4 sprigs of thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
4 or 5 carrots, diced (about 2 cups)
11/2 cups dried green lentils, rinsed
1 cup white wine
4 – 6 cloves of garlic, chopped fine (divided)
2 cups course breadcrumbs
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine (divided)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Salt & pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 375°F
1) Bacon Stock: Don’t separate your bacon, just count out ten slices and cut bacon rashers in thirds, then cover with about 5 cups of COLD water in a medium sized pot. Add peppercorns, bay leaves, and two sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for about 7 minutes. Skim foamy scum from the top, then drain, reserving liquid. When cooled slightly, cut bacon in 1/2 inch pieces and reserve. Discard used seasonings and any fat skimmed from the top.
2) While bacon is cooking, sear sausage using olive oil, in large oven-friendly casserole pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Remove when coloured and reserve. Sweat onions and carrots in same pot, until transparent. Add rinsed lentils and combine. Add white wine, to fully deglaze pan should there be any remaining brown bits after cooking onions & carrots. Measure 41/2 cups of now cool bacon stock and add to pot along with the chopped cooked bacon, the remaining thyme, half the chopped garlic and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil over medium high heat then place the whole works in a 375° oven, covered, for 15 minutes.
3) While lentils, sausages and bacon cook (and become delicious), toss breadcrumbs, remaining garlic, parsley and melted butter in a bowl to coat.
4) At the 15 minute mark, remove casserole, top evenly with garlic breadcrumbs and return to the oven for about 10 minutes until breadcrumb topping is golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven, allow to stand for about 5 minutes and serve.
A treat for the French Chef in my life, we served our Lentil Sausage & Bacon Casserole with a little Dijon mustard and the 2010 South Bay Chardonnay from Ontario’s Huff Estates. It’s light minerality and fresh, pineapple undertone balanced the buttery flavour and texture of lentils, the soft smokey undertone of the bacon and the hint of thyme and bay without overpowering.
A wine in the Burgundy style, grown close to home.