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French Lentil Pilaf with Wine


Saucisse de Toulouse, pan-grilled and served with French Lentil Pilaf.

Since we were pairing this pilaf with a French-style sausage, made with wine and garlic among other seasonings, we wanted the pilaf to complement the artisan-crafted sausage from the Kocurek Family Artisanal Charcuterie.  So, garlic, white wine and herbs, along with a little spicy red pepper went into the pilaf, and it paired up nicely with the sausage. So did a bottle of chilled Chateau St. Jean Sonoma County Fumé Blanc (which was also used in the pilaf.)

French Lentil Pilaf with Wine

For the lentils:
1 cup French lentils (tiny, green lentils, roundish rather than flat)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 leaves fresh culinary sage
Pinch black pepper
1-2 slices salt pork, if desired

For the pilaf:
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
2 slices (2-3 ounces) salt pork, trimmed and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in small dice
1/2 onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup dry white wine, such as a sauvignon blanc or fume blanc
1 ripe tomato, diced
Salt, to taste
Pinch white pepper
2 tablespoons snipped chives or sliced green onion

For the lentils, rinse them, then put in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover with 2 inches cold water. Add the garlic, onion, thyme, sage and black pepper. Put over medium heat and bring to a boil; turn down to simmer. Let simmer until the lentils are tender but not mushy. This takes some time depending on the age of the dried lentils. (Mine took about an hour and a half.)

When the lentils are approaching tenderness, put two tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet and turn the heat on to medium. Fry the salt pork until it is browned, then add the garlic, carrots and onion. Cook the vegetables over medium-medium low heat until the onions are tender. Add the thyme, cayenne pepper, wine and the tomato. Let the mixture simmer slowly until the wine has reduced by at least half and the tomatoes are heated through.

Strain the lentils and reserve some of the broth. Pick out the onion, garlic cloves and sprigs of thyme. If you want to use the salt pork, you can mince it up and put it back with the lentils. Put the lentils back in the pot along with a half cup or so of the cooking liquid. Then, put the sauteed vegetables in with the lentils and reheat, stirring gently. Season with salt and white pepper. Put lentils into a serving dish with minced chives on top. Drizzle with some of the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to give the dish some sheen.

Makes 3-4servings

From Bonnie Walker

Photograph by Bonnie Walker

 

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WalkerSpeak: Pork and the Kocurek Family Artisanal Charcuterie


With the economy still in the tank and some of us marginally employed, why would we purchase Czech bacon at the price of $7 for a half pound?

First, it’s pork. Second, it’s one of our favorite artisan foods: charcuterie. This is the preparation of pork (mainly, though other meats can be prepared similarly) specialties such as pâtés, rillettes, sausages, and, of course, bacon.

If the product is made by those who adhere to a “slow-food” ethos, it becomes even harder to resist. This was our pleasurable predicament after sampling from the Kocurek Family Artisanal Charcuterie Saturday at the Pearl Farmers Market.

The Kocureks have been selling prepared sandwiches and packaged sausages, bacon and other hand-crafted foods at the Pearl market for some weeks now. Their stated mission is to “preserve the art of traditional charcuterie using local, free-range, hormone-free meat and game, and above all else, the preservation of our happiness in making authentic food with our family.”

Czech bacon, thickly sliced and seasoned with herbs and spices, comes from the Kocurek Family Artisanal Charcuterie in Austin.

Lawrence and Lee Ann Kocurek met at culinary school a decade ago, then moved to New York. Lawrence is an honors graduate from The French Culinary Institute and Lee Ann is a certified sommelier from the American Sommelier Association. They have a young son, born in 2009, who was their inspiration, after careers with top restaurants and wine merchants, to go into business for themselves in Austin.

As Lawrence described it, the bacon is not as salty as American bacon. It is seasoned, however, with a lengthy list of herbs and spices. The flavor was plenty bacon-y, and we didn’t miss all the salt we have become accustomed to. It sizzled nicely in the pan and turned very crisp. It was utterly delicious with scrambled eggs, green chile salsa and hot corn tortillas for breakfast, and in BLTs at lunch.

Later on Sunday, my husband and I pan-broiled the Kocurek’s Saucisse de Toulouse, a half-pound French sausage made with pork, wine, garlic, nutmeg and other seasonings. Served with an herb-scented pilaf of tiny green French lentils seasoned with salt pork and sliced fresh tomatoes, it was a perfect Sunday supper.

John Griffin took home with him his own packages from the Kocurek booth, not being able to resist the Boerewors sausage, a taste of South African-seasoned beef, pork and bacon with red wine, garlic, coriander, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and Worcestershire sauce among the spices. We’ll look forward to the report on that— or, better still, a taste!

To look at a comprehensive product list of the Korcurek family’s charcuterie, a schedule of the farmers markets they visit, and to sign up for their newsletter, click here.

Saucisse de Toulouse, pan-grilled and served with French Lentil Pilaf with Wine.

For the French Lentil Pilaf with Wine recipe that we served with the Saucisse de Toulouse (see below), click here.

Photos by Bonnie Walker


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