So it’s a Sunday night and I’m stuck at home with my cold and my study while Mrs P heads out with the Pekings for dinner. Rain is gently falling, and it’s slightly chilly, even as much wonky body thermostat has me feeling like I’m overheating. I need company, tax law is a lonely Sunday evening activity. Flipping through my Ripe Deli cookbook (they have a new one out now!) and I spot this guy.
He looks a bit dark and gloomy; full beard, and a hard stare that suggests you should choose your words carefully when talking about illegal whaling and carbon footprints. But sit down with him, and you’ll be rewarded with a generously warm personality. Do choose your words carefully on environmental issues, swap the chicken stock I used for vegetable if you want the conversation on those terms, but do give this guy a try. He’ll stoke a fire perfect for any cockles you have in need of warming; that will stay with you long after the bowl is finished and until your Mrs P gets home.
This guy does take a little to warm up to you though, this isn’t a short cut recipe. Three bulbs of garlic need to be topped, drizzled with olive oil and roasted in the oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes. You need to thinly slice six onions and caramelise them in olive oil. Don’t let the cookbooks fool you when they say just put them in the frying pan for half an hour on a low heat and cook. While they won’t need to move around a lot at the beginning, once you get to the twenty to thirty plus minute mark they’ll need to move around a lot more until they go that wonderful dark brown. It’s not hard work, but you do need to put in the time. Once the onions are done, throw in a cup of lentils, two bay leaves, the roasted garlic and two litres of good chicken stock. Let it all happily toil away for 20 minutes until dark and rich in character, if not good looks.
You can serve with some crusty bread if you like, but take some time just between the two of you too. Such a pleasant conversation and good company.