French Style: Lentils With Bacon (Lentilles Braisées aux Lardons)
The best lentils grown in France come from Le Puy, in the Auvergne. They are very small and the colour of dark slate — look for them in delicatessens and large .
- 450 g/1 lb/2½ cups brown or green lentils, well rinsed and picked over
- 15 ml/1 tbsp olive oil
- 225 g/½ lb bacon, diced
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 2.5 ml/½ tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- About 350 ml/12 fl oz/1½ cups beef or chicken stock
- 30—45 ml/2—3 tbsp double cream (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 15-30 ml/1-2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
- Put the lentils in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a high heat and boil gently for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a heavy frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 5-7 minutes until crisp, then transfer the bacon to a plate.
- Stir the onion into the fat in the pan and cook for 2—3 minutes until just softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper, bay leaf and lentils.
- Add the stock and cover the pan. Cook over a medium-low heat for 25-45 minutes, until the lentils are just tender, stirring occasionally. Add a little moire stock or water to the pan, if needed.
- Uncover the pan and allow any excess liquid to evaporate. Add the reserved bacon, and cream, if using, and heat through for 1—2 minutes. Serve hot, with a scattering of chopped parsley on top.