To celebrate the first day of autumn, embrace the warm, earthy flavors of the fall and share with your friends this easy, comforting meal.
Sausage and Lentil Stew with Acorn Squash and Kale
2 pounds, green lentils, dry
1 1/2 pounds, sweet Italian sausage links, whole
1 each, large yellow onion, sliced 1/8” julienne
1/2 cup, diced bacon, plus a 2” cube of slab bacon (optional)
2 each, acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and diced 1/4”
2 each, Gala apples, peeled, cored, and diced 1/4”
2 cups packed, stemmed, and chopped lacinato kale
2 fl.oz, bourbon, whiskey, or brandy
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp butter, unsalted, cubed (1/2”) and chilled (optional)
1 large french baguette
-Start by placing the lentils in a sauce pot and add 5.5 cups cold water (2:1 ratio water to lentils).
-Add the bay leaf (and slab bacon if using) to the pot, stir, and bring to a simmer quickly over high heat. Once a simmer is reached, immediately turn the heat to low and cook gently until the lentils are tender (check after 20 minutes).
-Once the lentils are tender in the center (taste them!), reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the lentils.
-Toss with 1 tsp of salt thoroughly, discard the bay leaf and slab bacon, and set aside (on a baking sheet is possible to allow them to cool)
-While the lentils are cooking, place a large, flat-bottomed pot over medium-low heat.
-Add enough oil just to coat the pans surface and add the sausage links. Cook gently, browning all sides. Remove the sausage once firm to the touch. Allow to cool on a plate.
-Next, add the diced bacon to the same pot and cook over low heat, rendering all the fat. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and reserve with the sausage.
-Turn up the heat to medium and add the acorn squash, apple, and a pinch of salt. Saute in the bacon fat until caramelized on all sided.
-Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve with bacon and sausage.
-Next, cook the onions over low heat in the remaining fat (adding 1 Tbsp of olive oil) for 15-20 minutes of until soft and translucent.
-Add the kale and a pinch of salt. Cook just until the kale is wilted.
-Once the onions and kale are cooked, return the bacon, squash, and apples to the pan.
-Remove the pan from the flame (for safety) and add the bourbon (or whatever brown liquor you may have).
-Return to the heat over a low flame (to avoid a flame-up) and cook until the liquid is a thick syrup.
-Add the lentils to the pot, as well as the sausage (sliced into 1/2” thick rounds) and the reserved cooking water.
-Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, add the maple syrup, and taste. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
-Simmer until thick, turn off the heat, and stir in the cubed, chilled butter just until it melts (This is optional, but butter adds richness and flavor. Don’t be afraid!).
-Spoon the stew into large bowls, accompanied by sliced, toasted baguette.
Serve with one of the many autumn beers available from breweries such as—Brooklyn Brewery (NY), Long Trail (VT), Uinta (UT), Sierra Nevada (CA), Rogue (OR), Harpoon (MA), or Dogfish Head (DE)