Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Kitchen Diaries: Sausage and Lentil Stew

Though it's been an unseasonably warm March, I chose the recipe from January 30 - primarily because the ingredients were inexpensive, readily available, and it was easy to make after work.

It's doubtful the thought of expense crosses Nigel Slater's mind too often, any more than he cooks strategically to minimise washing up, but a good selection of reasonably priced recipes definitely makes or breaks a cookbook. Even if like me you're a lefty-liberal type who insists on free range sausages, I think the total spend on this dish is about six quid.

I suspect another thought that rarely crosses Nigel's mind is, 'Really, I should cut back on meat'. This recipe called for 350g of sausages (about five medium snags), plus 200g of salami - which was an entire Ficele, maybe 8 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. And this for two people. For lunch. Uh huh.

Guest and photographer Rowan was joining G and me, so I had intended to increase it by 50%. But it just looked silly. I realised how little I pay attention to amounts in cookbooks anymore (except for baking) and just go with what feels right. I halved the salami quantity, used two snags per person, and kept everything the same.

If I didn't love Nigel quite so much, I might also take issue with his instruction to cut the salami into 'fat matchsticks'. What does this mean? Baton-style 'matchstick' size, which would be an awfully big mouthful of salami? Or 'fat matchstick' like Nicole Kidman after an egg custard - still pretty bloody thin? My knife wasn't sharp enough for the latter, so I ended up with squat salami oblongs.

But true to his words, after half an hour of cooking, we had a beautifully hearty dish that looked as if it had simmered on the Aga all afternoon. I made mustardy mash to go with, rather than the rocket salad suggested - which might account for just how full I felt on less than a whole portion. On consultation with Oddbins, G brought home a fruity Rioja - the Campo Viejo Crianza. A true sausage wine.



cookingthebooks said...

And according to G you could smell it half way down the street too - a beautiful hearty dinner I'd say.


Jonathan K. said...

wonderful account for a great looking hearty dish. i think you're right -- you have to go with your gut, literally, I suppose, when a recipe amount makes you scratch your head and wonder.