Monday, September 24, 2007

fried duck egg with french green lentils

I must have been a French farmer's daughter in another lifetime. I have the fondest affections for simply prepared rustic French dishes, even if it's only a crusty baguette and a piece of runny, ripe Époisse, or a simple frisée salad with lardon vinaigrette. Aside from really good Chinese food, this is what makes me happy. This is what I want to eat when I curl up in bed on a cold rainy afternoon. And it's the way I like to cook too, simply, fresh from the land, close to the home, close to the heart.

mire poix - I really wish carrots had right edges...

I love fried eggs. Especially overtop things, like hash, toast, baked beans, even salad. Even better is fried duck egg over stewed lentils. These lentils, in the classic french style, utilizes lentilles de puy from Auvergne in central France, where the nourishing volcanic soil produces this unique variety is has been referred to as "the caviar of lentils." Its excellence has been recognized by the French government in the form of an Appellation d'Origine Contrôllée (AOC), a distinguished certification that's also used for certain cheeses and wine. Of course, you can use any type of lentil you wish, although I truly believe the lentilles de puy tastes superior.

You can make a big batch of these lentils because the leftovers are all that much better, as the flavors soak into the grains over time. It's low in fat and and a great source of protein and nutrients.

Fried duck egg with French green lentils

L'Oeuf de canard sur le plat et lentilles de Puy

1 cup lentils, any variety
1 carrot, diced small
1 stalk celery, diced small
1/2 onion, diced small
4 sprigs thyme
2 strips bacon, diced small
1 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper

eggs, duck or chicken
oil or clarified butter, for frying

1. Wash and rinse the lentils with water, and put into a large pot. Cover with 4-5 cups of water, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 20 min.

2. In a saute pan, cook bacon and thyme together until bacon is golden brown and most of the fat is rendered out. Add the onion and cook until it's almost translucent. Add the salt, carrot, celery, garlic, butter, and 1 cup water. Cook for 5 more min to allow the carrot to tenderize.

3. Drain the water from the lentils. Stir in the bacon and vegetable mixture, with all the liquids and cook over low heat for 10 min. Pick out the thyme stems. Flavor with salt and pepper.

4. Fry the egg to your liking with oil or butter, leaving the center soft.

5. Spoon the lentils onto your plate and top with a fried egg. Garnish with chopped parsley or chives.


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