I think this meal is going to become my new go-to dinner for guests. For a while, anytime we had anyone new over, we served this steak. Sure, that goat-cheese topped filet was awesome, but this lamb, lentil and pear dish wins. Dave and I had this for dinner and had enough leftover for lunch the next day. I'd even considered ways to finagle Dave's lunch helping away from him so I could have it all to myself. Greedy? Sure. But make this and you'll understand why.
Not only is the marriage of the lamb, lentils and pears a thing of beauty, it is also a lot easier. Yes, the steak was dead simple, but it had so many things going on WITH it (the mashed potatoes, asparagus, and Bearnaise) - that this new favorite simply doesn't. What's more ridiculous? There isn't a darn thing in the ingredient list that's tricky. You'll either have it at home or know where to get it. Although, now that I've written that out, it occurs to me that lamb sausage might not be as easy to find universally. I picked ours up at a local farmers market on a whim. Feel free to substitute what you have.
Now, for those of you that don't like to mix fruit in savory way into your dinner, please try to overlook that aspect. Dave didn't seem too enthusiastic about it at first blush, either, but gobbled this dinner up, pears and all. The recipe calls for the pears to be cut into eighths, but once I had them that way, they seemed too big. I sliced all the larger eighths in half, which got them closer in size to the sausages (and easier to eat!)
I cannot tell you enough how lovely this meal was. In the photos, it certainly looks like a rich, heavy Winter meal - don't let that deter you. Each bite was a joy, whether you had a bit of everything on your fork or not. The pears were soft and juicy and mingled brilliantly with the heartiness of the lentils and bite of the sausage. I can't wait to make it again.
Shall I set a place for you?
Lamb Sausage with Lentils and Sauteed Pears
c/o Food & Wine Magazine, May 2008
One of Defne Koryürek’s favorite homemade sausages includes beef, lamb, red peppers and garlic; she loves eating it alongside a creamy salad of lentils, roasted peppers and sautéed pears. The recipe is also delicious when prepared with spicy, rich merguez sausage.
2 cups brown lentils (14 ounces)
4 cups boiling water
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup roasted red peppers (8 ounces), preferably piquillo, cut into thin strips
1 1/4 pounds merguez sausage
2 ripe Bartlett pears, cored and cut into eighths
In a large heatproof bowl, cover the lentils with the boiling water and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the diced carrots, onion and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and 1 1/2 cups of water and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat until the lentils are just tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the olive oil, the cider vinegar and the roasted red peppers and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the lentil mixture to a serving platter.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the merguez sausage and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Arrange the sausages around the lentils and pour over any accumulated juices.
Return the skillet to high heat. Add the pears and cook, turning once, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the platter and serve right away.
Make ahead: The cooked lentils can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently before serving.
Wine: The smoky, substantial red wines of Spain’s Jumilla region seem as though they were designed to go with spicy sausages like merguez, making them ideal partners for this rustic dish. Look for the 2005 Finca Luzón, full of blackberry fruit, or the plummy 2005 Mad Dogs & Englishmen from Bodegas y Viñedos de Murcia.