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Sausage Lentil Stew

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So, I have to ask: Are you a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty person? With the way the weather has been this year, it’s pretty easy to see both sides of the coin. I mean, first we had little snow with some fairly warm days and there were only maybe six runs you could safely ski without churning up a bunch of rocks and needing a full tune.

Glass half empty: Wow, this is getting pretty boring, same runs, no powder, lots of people on limited space, this stinks Glass half full: Wow, the groomers are in great shape, the weather is awesome (if it isn’t snowing, it might as well be just like this), it’s the perfect time to work on technique, and with a pair of rock skis (which almost every skier owns for early and late season skiing anyway, or if you are renting, hey), the off-groomed snow was nice. They aren’t called rock skis for nothing.

There also are the same two sides when it comes to the big storm. Glass half empty: Man, why wasn’t it all snow? Why did it have to be rain at the bottom? Glass half full: Holy cow, 5 feet of snow at the top and it is that heavy stuff that will be around for a while not just blow away in the slightest breeze.

Yes, it is easy to see both sides of the coin, but with SnowFest! time here, you might as well jump on the positive band wagon and go for the good ride. We at least now have some snow so the dogs won’t have to be wearing Nike’s for the dog sled races, and there is something to make sculptures out of besides sand. This new storm will no doubt spark the interest of the Bay Area folks to come up and enjoy the festival, too.

All in all, it was a pretty good weekend to just stay in and ride out the storm, and what is the perfect comfort food for that kind of weather? Stew. It’s also the kind of meal you want to eat before going downtown to stand on the side of the road and watch the parade or hang out after skiing and watch the torchlight parade. Maybe that storm was just a precursor of what’s to come and so you might want to make an extra big batch of stew and freeze a little for later. As always, feel free to add or subtract veggies to suite your tastes. Enjoy.

Sausage Lentil Stew
1 T oil
1 lb. sweet Italian pork sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, medium to large dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
4 C chicken stock
2 t thyme
2 t basil
2 bay leaf
½ cup dry lentils
4-5 red potatoes, chunked
½ head broccoli flowerets
¼ bag frozen peas
¼ bag frozen corn

Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until just cooked and cool completely. Blanch the broccoli and cool completely. Get the oil hot in a large heavy pot and brown the sausage on all sides on medium to medium high heat. Drain most, but not all, of the oil off.

Add the onions and garlic and let cook until just start to soften. Add the carrots and celery and sauté until they barely start to soften. Add the stalk, thyme, basil, bay leaves and lentils, and bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer.

Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes or until the lentils are done. Add the potatoes, broccoli, peas and corn. Discard the bay leaves once everything is hot.

Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. He has been a chef for PGA’s Memorial Tournament for more than 15 years and ran the main kitchen at the World Games. For more information and archived copies of Stir it Up, visit chefsmitty.com. Smitty welcomes questions and comments at smitty@chefsmitty.com or (530)412-3598.

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