Ace's Opinion (the short version): Delicious! We have already made this twice. It's time-consuming but I'm thinking of ways around that and I actually learned something about cooking lentils. Keep reading to find out what.
Ace's Opinion (the long version): Of course I am going to love any meal involving lentils but if you want to impress and feed a crowd cheaply, this recipe is the way to go. Z. and I were planning a small dinner party and wanted to serve a multicourse French meal. Finding a traditional French entree that didn't have chicken, pork, beef, or fish was proving to be difficult. We did a little searching and found the Bon Appétit recipe for lentil cassoulet, something a little different than the traditional cassoulet of duck confit, white haricot beans, and sausage.
Let's take a look at the basic ingredients of the version Z. and I made that are already a feature in some of my lentil recipes, such as this one or this one:
What makes this recipe special:
- BACON STOCK
One reason this recipe is so time consuming is the first step. You create a stock using bacon, water, onion, and cloves. The stock is used to cook the lentils then to finish the cooking process in the casserole dish. This stock not only creates flavorful lentils, trust me when I say that the carrots and celery in the finish dish were the best carrots and celery I've ever had. Don't fret, the bacon is used again.
What we did differently:
- We changed some of the proportions. Each time we made this recipe, we used about 1 cup of Puy lentils. Even with just 1 cup of lentils, this could have served 6-8.
- We also added extra carrots and celery. See above for a description of sauteed vegetables simmered in bacon stock.
- Go heavy on the seasonings (herbs, spices, and garlic). Perhaps because we were using dried herbs, we needed to use more than we thought at the first time we made this dish.
- We couldn't find the right kind of sausage and just omitted it, while going a bit heavier on the bacon.
- The recipe doesn't specify fresh bread crumbs or dried. We used dried bread crumbs and certainly had no need for the 4 cups called for in the recipe. One cup of dried bread crumbs was plenty.
Make this recipe and enjoy!