lentil, sausage, & mushroom stew with chard

monday in review. let's go.

8a: wake up. realize the espresso is totally fucking out. try unsuccessfully to brew a short coffee in the coffee maker and mainline into body. wear sunscreen and lip balm as makeup.

8:55a: accept that deluge of rain renders other drivers useless and lost and wonder if any deserve to be on the road. almost get hit by someone trying to merge blind, and nearly lose car to pothole incident. spend traffic time studying movie billboards; arrive to work still unsure if any are worth seeing.

9:40a: spill coffee on important document and create daunting to do list. realize phone is already on 77% battery.

12:20p: decide on healthy lunch to detox body from superbowl wingstop sins. battle rabid crowds at the whole foods hot and cold bars in an attempt to infuse self with superfoods.

1p: begin hour 1 of 6 hours of meetings. fear end is near.

1:40: accept woeful dissatisfaction with lunch. in futility, drink more water.

3:20: browse 259+ soup recipes on pinterest. become tempted by something called creamy asiago tortellini soup, then remind self anything made for dinner must contain greens and protein, of which this has neither. bother other people about their dinner plans on the internet.

6:25p: emerge from time warp to find rain stopped, but weather still cold and awful. regret choice not to wear a jacket. fire up heated seats in los fucking angeles. end up at sur la table and impulse-buy an unnecessary all-clad saucier and $40 worth of "vintaged" nespresso pods. 

7:31p: attempt to assemble dinner. discover "gourmet" "high-end" grocery store is out of: parmesan cheese, cremini mushrooms, chicken breasts, and anything else essential. begin risk-calculation of winging dinner. end up with pork sausages, mushrooms, take-and-bake baguette, and no concrete ideas. 

8:20p: cat howls for dinner (chicken and salmon!) and lost hour begins. dinner is made, but unsure what will result. wine vinegars, purchased months ago, look like a good idea to "add brightness." experiment with a metric ton of marjoram. add too much, but maybe just right, amount of garlic?

9:14p: sit down to the ugliest decently-nutritious dinner ever. feel great about choices, but not about life, and therefore pour third glass of syrah from the online wine club. later, experimenting with anasthaxin facial serums and taking food-derived vitamins and finishing 100th oz of water for the day, remark on all the healthy lifestyle adjustments I'm making that better fucking get me ready for bikini season in this town so help me god. 

so. this stew, while kind of brown and sad for an instagram post, turned out to be a v satisfying dinner that fits all the basic health-bitch criteria: protein-dense, a meat and a legume and a green, no refined grains, earthy and seasonal and definitely not boring. the mushrooms are chopped fine, seasoned with marjoram and thyme, and cooked down enough that even haters can't notice (I tested this). the minced garlic that seems like too much, isn't. the splash of white wine vinegar (to deglaze) and red wine vinegar (to finish) create the winter alternative to a lemon juice squeeze: bright, acidic, and compensate for lentils' habit of sucking up all the salt. 

so while you may not want to look at it, you should make it, and have it as leftover lunch on yet another dreary, rainy, never-ending february day.

earthy lentil, sausage, and mushroom stew | italian enough

RECIPE

Effortful time: 20 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
Serves: 4

YOU NEED

  • 3 links (or about 12 oz) sweet italian pork sausage
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ghee
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 8 oz. white or cremini mushrooms, sliced (I normally prefer whole, but I used pre-sliced here)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dry green lentils
  • 1 tbsp. marjoram (if you don't have this, use 2 tsp. of oregano — they're in the same fam)
  • 1 tbsp. thyme
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • about 10 cracks of fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock or, as I used, chicken bone broth (an extra 9g of protein per serving)
  • 3 cups (a few big handfuls) of chard or other dark, leafy green
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated, 100% optional
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste throughout

MAKE IT

  1. Add the olive oil to a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Pierce the sausage links all over and brown about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a foil-lined baking dish and broil on low about 10 minutes more. Put under foil to keep warm.
  2. While the sausage is broiling, use the leftover gunk and oil in the pot to cook down the onions and shallots. Once softened, add the 1 tsp. of ghee and the sliced mushrooms. As they cook, begin to "chop" them with a spatula edge, a trick I learned for making mushroom ragout when I didn't have a food processor. this releases a shit ton of aggression, btw.
  3. Cook the mushrooms until they are thoroughly browned and have released all of their liquid. Once that happens, add the minced garlic, the thyme, marjoram, and 1 tsp. of salt, and stir to combine. Cook this mixture until the garlic is just fragrant and not brown. Deglaze with white wine vinegar.
  4. Add the lentils and pour over 3/4 of the broth and stir to incorporate, reserving the rest for when some burns off. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, then drop to a low simmer. 
  5. Cook, half-covered, for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are soft and the flavors have "melded" or concentrated or whatever — it should taste savory, herbacious, and the texture should be thick like a stew. You can add more broth if you like a soupier texture. 
  6. Last touches: drizzle in the red wine vinegar (seriously, don't skip it, lentils taste very brown without it) and, if you want, the parmesan cheese to cream up the broth a little bit.  
  7. Pairing: go for a zinfandel. bold, mighty, n earthy. AND GET BREAD. EVEN I USED BREAD.