Salsiccia con Lenticchie (Italian sausages with lentils), is one of my very favorite dishes. It brings back very vivid memories of days spent with friends on the lentil plains of Castelluccio, Le Marche, Italy. Our friends always enjoyed the beautiful flowers and colors. It’s hard to explain but its as if an artist has thrown every color of paint they possess over the countryside. A site to behold.
In the hilltop village of Castelluccio, there was a little restaurant that served Salsiccia con Lenticchie (Italian sausages with lentils) and it was a real treat to have there and enjoy this hearty dish with a hearty bottle of Rosso Piceno.
The village of Castelluccio was damaged very badly by the earthquakes in Central Marche in 2016. Many of the residents are still trying desperately to rebuild their lives. They depend very much on the lentil crop and tourism so try to buy Castelluccio Lentils or if you can pay them a visit. It is a wonderful experience.
Salsiccia con Lenticchie (Italian sausages with lentils)
Feast your eyes on the finest Italian sausages with braised lentils! It’s straightforward and fun to make this great dish. Simply follow the instructions below and get the perfect result.
- 200 g diced pancetta or Smoked Streaky Bacon chopped
- 8 Italian sausages or a good quality farmers sausage
- 1 carrot finely chopped
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 celery stick finely chopped
- 200 g Castelluccio lentils or Puy if you’d prefer
- A few glugs of red wine
- 300 ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 fat clove of garlic
- A few sprigs of thyme
Start by rendering down the pancetta to create the starting fat, and use it to brown the sausages. The sausage only needs a light browning, but they’ll render out a little fat too.
Lift out and set aside the sausages, leaving the fat (and the pancetta) in the pan to cook the soffritto (The vegetable mix). Add extra olive oil if needed. Cook the veg slowly until it’s all getting soft, sticky and a bit brown around the edges.
Now lower the heat and add the lentils. Stir them around until they’re all properly greased, then pour in the red wine.
Rack up the temperature and allow the alcohol to boil off, then pour in enough chicken or veg stock to cover the lentils.
Add the crushed garlic and the thyme, then sink the sausages into the pan and simmer, incredibly gently, for at least 40 minutes. Don’t bother stirring much, but add a little boiling water if things look like they’re getting dry. Keep tasting to check the doneness of the lentils and the flavor as the juices concentrate.
When everything starts coming together turn off the heat, give things a stir, cover and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
This is the dish that Italians serve traditionally on New Year's Day; the coin-shaped lentils symbolize the prosperity that is hoped for over the coming year, much as Jewish tradition uses honey richly for the Rosh Hashanah meal to represent the wish for a sweet and happy life for the year ahead.
This dish works well with a really hearty red. Of course, it has to be Italian. We served a Dominic Hentall Terra Calda Primitivo 2017 from Puglia. This is a Primitivo for those who like their wines a dark inky red, with intense dark fruits and spice, and a perfect balance of finely integrated tannins and creamy oak. Available from Naked Wines