In recent weeks my Grandfather has developed a penchant for divulging a number of his favourite Clement Freud anecdotes. His favourite story concerns a trip Freud made to Mexico. Whilst in Mexico, Freud thought he would sample the delights of a true Central American Chilli, something he soon regretted. After ordering ‘six bottled of beer in quick succession’, Freud advised the chef that it may be best to warn visitors about the deadly speciality. The chef replied that ‘the ratio [of chilli to meat] was about one to one.’ Had Freud wanted his chilli with only a little spice the chef said that ‘there was an American place just down the road.’ I think it’s rather a humorous little tale, though perhaps you’ll disagree if you are an American. Anyway, a deep interest on the writings of Freud developed within, and I asked to borrow my Grandfather’s copy of ‘Freud of Food’. To my delight I discovered that my taste in humour shared an even closer affinity to that of Freud’s, when I discovered a section entitled, ‘Give The Wife A Break’.
In Freud’s book I discovered a recipe which makes use of green lentils. As you all know, I’m rather reluctant to post recipes which have been devised by others. As such, I decided to run with the idea of green lentils, but make the recipe my own. At this point I remembered that cider goes perfectly in dishes like this, and purchased two bottles of fairly dry, strong apple cider – one for the dish, one for myself. One cannot emphasise enough the need for a fairly dry, if not very dry, cider in this recipe. You should really be aiming for at least 5.5% alcohol content. Cider which contains less alcohol generally isn’t what I would describe as cider. After all, cider is made with apples which contain a lot of sugar. Sugar is what determines the alcohol content of a drink. If it has an alcohol content of between 4% and 5%, then it hasn’t been fermented for long enough. I used a bottle of cider which dated back to 2010 and had an alcohol content of 8.2% - that’s the proper stuff.
Cider and Green Lentil Stew
• 250g green lentils
• 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
• 1 leek, sliced
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 2 bay leaves
• A few sprigs of fresh thyme
• 500ml good quality apple cider (see above)
• 200ml vegetable stock
• A knob of butter (optional)
• Olive oil
• Salt and pepper
1. Begin by frying the onion and leek in a good slug of olive oil. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the carrot, cook for a further 2 minutes.
2. Stir in the green lentils, do not forget to rinse them. Pour in the cider and 100ml of the stock, before adding the bay leaves, thyme and butter. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the lentils are to your personal taste. One may need to add the remaining vegetable stock before serving. Season to taste.
Cost: Lentils are ridiculously cheap, something I have purported any number of times. Since vegetables are also cheap, one can assume that such a dish will be rather easy on one’s wallet. Cider is probably the most expensive ingredient here, though it’s often on sale. Assuming that a bottle of dry cider will set you back no more than £1.80, at a high estimate, this meal should set one back no more than around £2.70.