The dish was nothing short of divine.
I have a lot of piperade leftover these days from hosting my Basque Gastronomy Cooking Experience on Airbnb, and have perfected that recipe down to the pinch of salt.
I simmered French green lentils in a base I made from [leftover] puréed Basque piperade & heirloom chicken stock. The sweet peppers and piment d’ Espelette subtly shine through to perfectly season the lentil in a way that sweetly complements the duck. No extra seasoning needs to be added. It's a 1:3 ratio of French green lentils to piperade/stock base.
The Cherry Plum- Apricot Coulis was something new and special. I actually haven’t seen anything like it, at any restaurant. It reminded me of a fruitier version of tkemali, a not widely known Georgian cherry plum sauce. I made the coulis by reducing local cherry plums and apricots with Amizetta Winery's port, a little sea salt, lemon zest and honey, and strained through a mesh sieve to remove the skins & pits before plating. Because of the tart and tangy cherry plum, balanced by the candied apricots, I knew it wouldn’t be overpowered or overpowering. Overall, the flavor was layered, and it evolved as you moved through each chew.
When taken together as one bite with piperade stewed lentils & deliciously dark duck leg, you could understand why it worked. It balanced against the duck fat harmoniously.
I’d make this again, in a heartbeat. And, the Lentils Basquaise will most certainly be part of my biweekly rotation. They would also shine solo, or with a simple poached egg.
In a medium saucepan, stir together and bring to a boil:
1 cup French green lentils, rinsed & sorted*
3 cups Piperade base (purée in a blender 1 cup piperade with 2 cups stock)
After the lentils reach boiling, reduce heat to low and place a sheet of paper towel over the top of the saucepan.
Then cover with a lid.
The paper towel in between the lid and pan allows for steam to escape slowly and evenly during simmering, for the perfect lentils every time. I also use the paper towel trick for rice, couscous, grits and other grains.
Simmer for approx. 20 minutes or until lentils are soft (not mushy) and can be fluffed with a fork. You may need to add water, during simmering, as needed, if you notice the lentils are low on liquid and absorbing too quickly for what they need. This may be due to a variety of factors, like your ingredients, stock water content, your temperature, cooking range, equipment and elevation.
*Before using lentils, always check for tiny stones and rinse several times
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