Lentils and other coin-like foods – like carrot slices, maybe – are traditional “good luck” foods for New Year’s Eve, as is pork, for its richness. I can get some awfully good local raw smoked sausage these days, and I’m prepared to eat this at just about any time on account of how it’s just plain tasty, as well as easy to make. I guess that sounds pretty lucky to me.I don’t usually soak lentils, but it does help speed them up for this. Of course, you could use tinned lentils and speed things up even more, or cook them ahead of time in the rice cooker (2 cups water to 1 cup of lentils). One cup of dry lentils is probably equal to about a tin and a half of lentils, so keep that in mind – you can round everything up a bit and put in 2 tins, no problem; it’s that kind of recipe. Also if you can’t get good Mennonite style raw but smoked sausage, you could go for a smoky cooked sausage, probably found where Polish style meats are sold. In that case I would use a little vegetable oil to sauté the carrots and onions, and add the sausage pieces when the lentils were half cooked.
Okay; the last post wasn’t quite the last post of the year – this one is. So once more, here’s to 2021: may it be so much better than 2020. Let’s hope!
4 to 6 servings:1 hour 10 minutes – 20 minutes prep time
Prepare the Seasonings:2 to 4 cloves of garlic1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds1/4 teaspoon saltfreshly ground black pepper to taste1 or 2 bay leaves1/4 to 1/8 crushed red chileBefore you get started you should put your lentils (see below) into a bowl or pot and pour boiling water over them, and let them soak while you prepare other things. Peel and mince the garlic. Crush the fennel seeds with the salt. Put all of these into a small bowl and set aside until needed.
Make the Stew:
1 large onion1 large carrot500 grams (1 pound) raw smoked pork sausagea little mild vegetable oil, maybe
1 cup soaked brown OR green lentils2 cups crushed tomatoes3 cups water
Peel and chop the onion. Peel and dice the carrot. Cut the sausage into bite-sized pieces.
Put the sausage into a heavy-bottomed soup pot, heated over medium heat. If it is lean you may want to start it in a very small amount of oil, but that’s pretty unlikely. If it seems reasonably fatty, put in a few tablespoons of water to help it get started without sticking. Once it is sizzling and letting off some fat, add the carrots and onions. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are softened and reduced and the sausage is getting some brown spots.
Add the lentils, and the seasonings from the little bowl. Mix in well and cook for a minute or so, then add the crushed tomatoes and the water. Mix well, and cook for about 45 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Stir regularly, and watch the liquid level. It should cook down some, but the mixture should stay stewy. You may need to add a little more water. Also check the salt – I’m calling for very little, because sausage can be quite salty. It’s best to start low and add a little more if needed.
Serve hot, with good crusty bread if you can.Last year’s lucky dish was Roasted Chick Pea & Carrot Salad.