I love swine. Pork is definitely my favourite meat - though I confess I am fickle and this is not always 100% the case but 99 times out of 100 if I see something deliciously porky on a menu it is very rare that I manage to order anything else. There is something so comforting about it and I could go on in raptures about the many wonderful forms it takes.
Slow roast belly, tender and melting; a juicy loin with full on crackling; baked ham and gammon, meaty and salty; cured pork of all wondrous kinds - classic English bacons, chorizo, Parma ham, Ibirico... each with its own distinctive flavours and textures and full of silky, fatty goodness.
And then there is the sausage. Humble it may seem at first but when I think of all the quick comfort foods there are to warm the cockles on a grey and rainy night the sausage wins hands down. Everyone loves snags, even, I suspect, vegetarians. I know many a vegetarian who has been won over by the joys of a glossy, brown, sizzling sausage.
Simple dishes like this are a lifesaver after a busy day. The sausages are quickly roasted with sage and some leftover stale bread torn into chunks. The bread toasts to a golden crisp then when you add a splash of chicken stock and pop it back in the oven it absorbs the stock and sausagey juices until it is this wonderful combination of a bit crispy and a bit chewy. Sit it on top of rich, creamy lentils cooked with chorizo and you have all the makings of a warming autumn supper good enough to share with friends. I'd have added a handful of chopped parsley if I'd had some so bung some in if you like.
Puy lentils, chorizo and sage baked sausages
6 free range sausages
2 tbsp olive oil
8 sage leaves, roughly torn
1/3 baguette or other stale bread, torn into chunks
500ml fresh chicken stock (or a stock cube)
1 banana shallot, finely sliced
125g cured chorizo, cut into pieces
3 good handfuls puy lentils (about 200g)
2tbsp crème fraiche
Heat your oven to 200c/fan 180c and pop the sausages into a roasting tin with the sage and bread. Toss with half the oil and season well then roast for 20 minutes, turning once, until the sausages are just cooked and the bread golden and crispy. Add a splash of your stock and return to the oven for a further 10 mints then remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a pan and gently fry the shallot for 10 minutes until softened. Add the chorizo and fry for a further minute until all the lovely paprika oil has come out of the chorizo. Tip in the lentils and add the rest of the stock. Season (I promise this won't make you lentils tough - that is an old wives tale) and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are tender. Add the crème fraiche and spoon onto 4 plates.
Half the sausages and pile them and the baked sticky bread on top of the lentils and serve.