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Smoked Duck Sausage with Warm French Lentil Salad

Puy Lentils are the star of this evergreen dish, perfect for any time of year.

Smoked Duck Sausage with Warm French Lentil Salad

Puy lentils, also known as French lentils, are beautifully round, ranging in color from slate gray to green. Sometimes called "poor man's caviar," Puy lentils have an earthy, nutty flavor thanks to the volcanic soil of the region. They hold their round shape better than other lentil varieties, making them ideal for salads. This recipe can be made with any lentils, but the Puy variety are the best choice. Smoked duck sausage can be purchased at any specialty food store, but using another kind of sausage will work just as well, such as andouille, smoked chicken, or boudin blanc. Served alongside greens dressed in the same red wine vinaigrette, this lentil salad is hearty, healthy, and delicious!

Equipment: cutting board; chef's knife; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; peeler; Dutch oven or stockpot; wooden spoon; sauté pan; tongs; mixing bowl; whisk; colander or strainer

Red Wine Vinaigrette Ingredients:

1 large garlic clove, crushed

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1½ cups vegetable oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Lentil Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 garlic clove, minced 1 large onion, finely diced

1 large carrot, finely diced

2 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise (white and light green)

1 cup dry Puy lentils

4 cups of chicken (or vegetable) stock, or water

leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme

kosher salt to taste

Sausage Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 duck sausages, sliced in ¼-inch slices on bias

ILOC tip: if the bag you buy is not labeled "Puy," then the lentils were grown outside of France.

1. First begin to prepare the vinaigrette. Crush the garlic clove with a chef’s knife and remove the skin. Pour the vinegar into a large bowl and add the garlic clove. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes to infuse the vinegar. Set aside.

2. Heat a small stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil, swirling the pan to coat the bottom. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, and scallions. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, until the onions and carrots have softened, stirring constantly.

3. Add the lentils to the sautéed vegetables, and stir well to incorporate. Pour the stock or water in the pot, add the thyme leaves, and a big pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

4. Meanwhile, brown the sausage slices in batches in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, approximately 2 minutes per side. Set aside.

5. Now finish the vinaigrette. Remove the garlic from the vinegar and discard the garlic. Add the mustard and seasoning to the vinegar, and blend with a whisk. Then add the oil very slowly to the vinegar mixture, a bit at a time, as you whisk vigorously to emulsify. Set aside.

6. Once the lentils are done, strain the lentils, shaking off any excess water. Place them in a large mixing bowl and add ½ cup vinaigrette. Mix well to coat and toss in the duck sausage. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste the lentil salad; add more vinaigrette or seasoning if desired. Set aside.

7. Divide even portions of the duck-lentil salad amongst four shallow bowls, along with some mixed greens, if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings. Store excess vinaigrette in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Smoked Duck Sausage with Warm French Lentil Salad

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