Jen mentioned that we had puy lentils in the cupboard, tonight I cooked them.
If you'd asked me about eating lentils a couple of months ago I would have made wretching noises, but now I like them, a lot. This culinary U-turn was brought about through a visit to the Clifton Kitchen, where I was so hungry for the confit rabbit that I was prepared to overlook bunny sharing a plate with creamed puy lentils. In fact the rabbit was a bit dry and the least interesting component of what was otherwise a fantastic meal. The lentils were in a rich meat stock and had a hint of cream to them, like an earthy rich risotto. Since that meal, the last two restaurant visits have also had puy lentils prominently in the menu and they've been great.
So, how to cook them? The method below is adapted from the The Guardian, but, not having any grouse to hand, I used a griddle pan to crisp up some de-boned chicken thighs marinated in oil, lemon, chilli and coriander (de-boning chicken thighs is one of my favourite kitchen preparations, it makes me feel like a butcher). I was too rushed to buy any meat stock so I used Marigold.
Very nice, warming and filling, but perhaps lacking the richness of a chefy beef/veal reduction that we had been used to (or perhaps spoilt by). It was an easy preparation at ~30 minutes and made a nice change from the more standard carbohydrates. Definitely one to revisit! Chicken was tasty too...
The recipe is generous for four portions, don't be tempted to overdo it as it is VERY filling - as Jen found to her cost... cue much overstuffed groaning.
250g Puy Lentils
1 stick of celery
2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
1 tablespoon of nam pla fish sauce
750ml of Marigold based vegetable stock
100ml double cream
- Coat the bottom of a sauteuse with olive oil (the 115ml suggested in the original recipe looks like a typo to me) and heat to medium heat. Slice up the bacon and drop it in the pan (maybe use another two rashers for a stronger taste).
- While the bacon sizzles and gives up its flavour, chop the veg finely. Put veg in the pan and let it soften for 5 to 10 minutes.
- As you stir occasionally to stop things sticking and burning, prepare the stock and wash the lentils.
- Add the lentils and stir them in with the veg. Pour over the stock and bring to the boil - leave at a simmer for 20 - 25 minutes, checking done-ness and stirring from time to time.
- When the liquid is mostly absorbed, and the lentils are no longer chalky in texture, add the fish sauce and cream and season with salt and pepper.
- Bring the pan up to heat, stir, transfer to plate, then insert into face.