Lentil Cassoulet

I made an old recipe I can’t find the written form of again after years, and rather like the way it came out, so it seems wise to document it. I got the original from my mother, who says she got it from Julia Child, but I couldn’t find anything I recognize as being this recipe in the two basic Child volumes.

Cook one cup dry lentils as directed on the package. Drain, discard the liquid.

Mince three small onions or so.

Slice three or four small carrots.

Mince enough shallot to sprinkle on top.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Saute the onions and carrots in something convenient (rendered chicken fat, this last time).

Add a teaspoon of thyme while sauteing.

When done, add about 3/4 cup of dry red wine and let boil a minute or two, stirring.

Spread the vegetable mix evenly over the bottom of something oven-proof and vaguely 9x13ish.

Spread the cooked lentils evenly on top of the vegetable mix.

Slice sweet or mild Italian sausage, a pound is probably about right, but half will do if you’re poor. Much more than a pound doesn’t fit. Distribute evenly over the mixture in the pan. You want it less than 3/4″ thick, it has to cook through in the oven.

Sprinkle the minced shallot over the top. Also some Pepperidge Farm bread crumbs if you have them handy.

Place in the oven and bake an hour at 350.

Serves four, roughly. Serve with red wine. And veggies and salad or something, if you like. Reheats very well as leftovers, too.

Notice that I didn’t have to add any salt; well, I salted the water the lentils cooked in, as instructed on their package, but that water is mostly discarded, not absorbed. With less sausage, it may need more salt.

4 thoughts on “Lentil Cassoulet”

  1. If you like it this way there’s no reason to change, but I’m pretty sure I recall from having made it myself that the thyme got sprinkled over the lentils before the sausage was added, while the shallots got sauteed with the carrots. Also, there was celery.


  2. I do think I like it better this way, actually. I suspected there was supposed to be celery, but I’m not a big fan, and the rest of it would go to waste.

    There was also something where flour was mixed somehow with the veggie and wine and stuff mixture, to thicken it, but I didn’t see any point, and the results seem to bear me out on that.

    This rendition had the nicest flavor I remember.

  3. Oh yeah, I remember the flour. I’m glad to know it wasn’t necessary, since it was a fiddly step.

    We didn’t often actually get shallots, either, so that may help the flavor a bit too. I used to put garlic in sometimes. This version is simpler, though, and that’s always good.


  4. The shallots on top got just a little browned, and largely dried, so they added a nice textural as well as flavor component, as it worked out. Worth doing, I think.

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