winter lentils with pork and chestnut

Lentils – those beady little morsels make me happy. They’re cheap, tasty, full of nutrients and low in phytic acid. I eat them at least once a week. It’s a perpetual mission to keep coming up with interesting ways of cooking them (let’s face it; you can get stuck in a lentil rut for sure). Well I must say, I think I’ve outdone myself with this concoction.

my winter lentil concoction. the yellow blobs are the chestnuts. yum, i promise.

A few things to know:
  • For instructions on how to prepare lentils, check out my post from last week.
  • Don’t be shy with the pepper. Lentils like quite a bit of pepper.
  • Likewise with the apple cider vinegar. Lentils and chestnuts are both quite sweet – the acidity from the vinegar adds a necessary zing and balance.
  • The chestnuts act kind of like a sweet, creamy potato alternative. They’re delicious. They’re in season from Autumn – you can find them at farmers’ markets and some good greengrocers.

winter lentils with pork and chestnut

2 cups persian red lentils (unhulled, whole) or French-style puy lentils, soaked overnight
4 small bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
10 or so chestnuts
6 pork and fennel sausages (pastured) – if you can’t find pork and fennel, just add a teaspoon of whole fennel seeds
butter, small knob
1 brown onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp sweet paprika
6 whole pimento
black pepper, freshly ground
apple cider vinegar (or a good quality red wine vinegar)
fresh parsley, for garnish

Place lentils, bay leaves and thyme in a medium-sized pot and add enough water to just cover. Bring to the boil then simmer gently until cooked. Don’t drain. You want the end lentils to be quite sloppy – about 1/3 water left in the pot – so if you notice the water level dropping too much during the cooking process, top up with a little boiling water.

Meanwhile, prepare the chestnuts. Cut a criss-cross on each chestnut, pop the lot in a pot of water and boil for approximately 10 minutes. Drain and when cool enough to handle, peel the chestnuts. Note that there’s a hard outer shell and a soft brown skin inside that also needs to be removed (should just slip off quite easily when chestnuts are still hot). Try to keep the chestnuts whole as you peel them. Set the peeled chestnuts aside.

Slice the sausages into bite-sized pieces, place in a hot pan and fry until browned. No need to add oil the pan, the fat from the sausages will come out and coat it. Remove and set aside.

Add a small knob of butter to the same pan and sauté the onion until soft. Add the chestnuts, the sausage, the lentils (with their cooking water), the spices, salt and pepper (to taste) and a good splash of apple cider vinegar to the pan, cover and simmer gently for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to meld. Before serving, taste for acidity. Add a little more vinegar if it needs it.

Before plating up, remove the bay leaves, thyme sprigs and whole pimentos. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

P.S Great served with celeriac mash!


  1. Looks delicious! I've decided that there's nothing like the combination of pork and pulses - it simply just works! Pork sausages and lentils, pea and ham soup, bacon and cannelini beans, grilled proscuitto and smashed broad beans . . . it's a winner every time!



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