Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A bowl of simple deliciousness ...........

Now it can never be said that we are major exponents of tinned food, fully understanding that fresh is best - but here in France even convenience food is of a far superior quality to that found in the UK. 

Particulalry sumptuous examples of what we mean are the classics ‘Cassolet’ and ‘Petit  Sale’ both of which are traditional slow cooked dishes which use more economical cuts of meat mixed with either haricot beans or green lentils.  I really don’t mind saying that at all times we have a supply of these tinned meals – to us they are emergency, (‘we’ve stayed in the bar for one too many’) items that mean we can still eat well without the need for lengthy planning or prepration.  It works for us!

But fresh is still best ...........

Now I am a great fan of anything ‘slow cooked’ (the utlimate favourite is 7 hour mutton) and love the textures, flavours and simple deliciousness that are achieved by long slow cooking.  There is also that element of anticipation and eagre expectancy that you get as once you have prepared and combined all of the ingredients you are able to let the oven do the rest for you – its almost sorcery. 

These favourites are also all ‘one pot’ wonders which of course means less washing up for Darren to do!

So yesterday I created my own version of ‘Petit Sale’ – spent a happy hour in the kitchen mid afternoon and after the oven had done its work we sat down to our home made bowl of deliciousness. 

If you want to have a go heres what you need to do.

1lb (500g) Pork shoulder cut into approx 5cm (2”) pieces
8oz (250g) Thick cut slices of smoked streaky bacon cut into similar size pieces
4 good quality meaty sausages – Toulouse works well.
2 medium onions chopped coarsley
3 carrots peeled and chopped into large pieces
2 large cloves of garlic – crushed
12oz (350g) green lentils – Puy are best
2pints (1 ltr) good quality chicken stock
2 bayleaves, Salt & Pepper

1.  Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottommed frying pan and fry 3 or 4 pieces of the pork at a time until all sides are a rich golden brown.  Remove and put into an oven proof casserole dish.

2.  Fry the chopped onion and carrot in the frying pan until just browning and add to the casserole alongwith the crushed garlic. 

3.  Fry the sausages until evenly browned but not cooked through and slice in half, fry the bacon until golden and add both to the casserole dotting them amongst the rest of the ingredients so they are evenly distributed.

4.  Add the green lentils and stir through the rest of the ingredients.

5.  Bring the chicken stock to simmering point and pour over the rest of the ingredients ensuring that the stock is about 2cm over everything.

6.  Add black pepper and bay leaves.

7.  Put in the centre of a preheated oven – gas mark 2 / 130°C for 2 and a half hours (check after 2 hours and add a little more chicken stock if all the liquid has been absorbed by the lentils).

8.   When the pork is soft and tender the ‘petit sale’ is ready.  Season with salt to taste and serve in warm bowls with fresh crusty bread and unsalted butter.

And a large glass of Breton Cider of course ................

PS -  if the Breton cider gets the better of us before we even start we will always open up a tin from our ‘emergency supply’


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