Petit Salé is a hearty peasant dish that is claimed by many regions of France. I've seen Burgundy, Auvergne and Picardy claim to have the authentic version. The basic ingredients are the same in all, though: lentils and some kind of pork or cured meat. Like all peasant fare, it can vary between "heavy-greasy-gristle-laden" and "elegant-savoury-hearty". When it's the latter, it's delicious, a wonderful filling winter dinner. Personally, I love lentils. In college, I used to make an amazing lentil soup that miraculously turned solid overnight. (Little did I know I was essentially making a French dish called petit salé.) My dear Critic, however, is not a huge fan of lentils and so in order to make them palatable to him, I recently paired them with English sausages (which he loves). It was a success, making a hearty end-of-winter healthy meal.
Petit Salé Anglais
Salé means salty, so the name of this dish comes from the salt pork or other salt-cured meat you serve with the lentils. Lentils can be a bit bland, so it's as well to remember the origin of the name: you need something with a bit of flavour to jazz up the beans.
1 cup dried lentils
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbs mustard
2-3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper, dried sage
Chop the onion and garlic and sauté in a bit of butter. When they are limp and soft, add the lentils and the stock. Bring to a boil and in the meantime dice the carrot and add to the mix. Once the lentils have cooked (about 20 minutes) taste for seasoning and be generous with the salt and pepper. Just before serving, add the mustard and vinegar.
While the lentils are cooking, grill the sausages under the broiler or grill element on your oven. I place a cake cooling grill over a deep pan to catch the fat as it runs off. Turn them frequently to brown on all sides.
By the time the sausages are browned on all sides and cooked through your lentils will be finished. Serve the lentils in shallow bowls with the sausages perched on top. You could cut them in pieces for your diners, but the sausages would cool off that way and it would take away from the rustic simplicity of the dish. Don't you love how the phrase "rustic simplicity" allows infinite laziness?