I suppose I should write about those poor, neglected lentils, shouldn’t I.
As is so often the case with greatness, it began with sausages. Good pork sausages from Vermont, both hot and sweet Italian. Thinking of materials with which to undergird them, I came across the jar of blue lentils in the ever-helpful pantry cupboard. There are these awesome drawers inside the cabinet that have low sides and slide in and out so smoothly; they’re way up there on the list of things I love about the new kitchen. That is not that new any more.
Now a sausage on a bed of lentils is not necessarily blogworthy in and of itself. But there were a few extra things that made this pretty special. First, homemade guanciale rendered before sautéeing the chopped allium, carrot, fennel, celery, turnip, radish, herb, and burdock mixture at the outset. Second, this green mash that I described earlier: pan di zucchero (in the endive family) ground up with garlic, walnuts, olive oil, salt, and the amazing raspberry vinegar made by Brother Victor-Antoine. A puréed salad, and just wonderfully complex and exciting. It set off the fat, greasy meat and the sturdy yet refined lentils with aplomb.
Best of all, the next day–having made a lot with an eye toward leftovers–I defrosted a tub of smoked chicken stock and, using the rest of the browned and then cut up sausages, made this into one of the finer lentil soups in recent memory. I ate it outside on the porch in the hot sun for lunch on another extraordinary day, after pinching some marjoram leaves into the bowl and rubbing thyme and rosemary on my fingers before eating. All those herbs are now safely indoors; tonight it freezes, and the weather takes a seasonable turn. But we’re ready.