Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by their book, Almost Meatless.
I am no fan of any food stuff that comes with some sort of "flavoring packet." You know, the pouch of powdery who-knows-what that comes with your boxed rice and couscous. But with a recipe like this, when so much of the final flavor comes from the type of sausage you choose, I'm compelled to compare sausage to a flavoring packet. Good sausage can take all the work out of jazzing up and flavoring a simple dish like this one. I love a fatty, garlicky, spicy Italian link, but fresh chorizo would be just killer in this preparation. So choose your sausage wisely. The quality of the finished product, especially in a recipe that goes easy on the meat, depends on it.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 to 6 ounces sausage, casings removed and crumbled
- 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, halved and cut into 1-inch slices
- 1 1/4 cups lentils
- 3/4 cups long grain rice
- 4 cups chicken stock
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet. Add the sausage and cook until the fat has rendered and the sausage is browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the leeks to the fat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are totally soft and a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes.
As the leeks cook, combine the lentils and chicken stock in sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add the rice, stir, and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils and rice are tender. Add the caramelized leeks and reserved sausage and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a green salad.