Even with six years of being a Londoner under my belt, there are still some quintessentially English things that will always remain a novelty to the American in me. Red telephone booths, London Bridge is really Tower Bridge, calling crosswalks zeb-bras and not zee-bras, and the reactions I get when I say ‘fanny pack’ are always priceless.
Also, as a matter of principle, I only take the paper from cockney geezers that call me Gorgeous or Love. That’s about 90% of them, but that is not the point.
Compliments aside, perhaps the greatest novelty about living here is how easy it is to travel. Not just in the UK but to the continent as well. The accessibility might be taken for granted by native dwellers, but this California girl still marvels at the idea of arriving in another county in less than an hour. Where I come from, you can fly for an hour and still be in the same state. Whoa.
In February, G and I took advantage of the Eurotunnel’s 20th Anniversary as an excuse for a recon trip to stock up on wine and Comte. From Dover, we descended 38 km (24 miles) under the English Channel and re-emerged in Calais only 40 minutes later. I am happy to report that our mission was a success and we returned with a car full of wine, saucissons and nose wrinkling cheese.
I always make this stew with the ingredients sourced from my French supermarket adventures. It is rustic and filling, but not too heavy. Plus, it freezes brilliantly (for up to a month), so you can transport yourself to the continent without that pesky 40 minute commute.
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 pork sausages, I used Toulouse
2 chicken thighs
2 chicken drumsticks
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin butter beans
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 small carrot
½ large white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ glass red wine for deglazing
100g green lentils
500ml chicken stock or enough to cover everything
1 ½ Tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch of chilli flakes, optional
1 Tsp of Herbs de Provence, if you don’t have this handy, I find dried oregano works too
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large handful of chopped parsley
1. Heat the oil in a heavily bottomed pot, then evenly brown the sausages, followed by the chicken pieces. You may have to do this in batches to ensure even colouring. Don’t overcrowd the pot and set aside.
2. In the same pot, sauté the onions, garlic, and celery on a med-high heat. When the onions are soft, deglaze with the red wine.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients except the parsley to the pot. Bring to the boil for 5 minutes then back down to a gentle simmer for 35-45 minutes stirring occasionally. The stew is ready when the lentils are tender and the chicken is falling apart.
4. Before serving, remove the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve straight from the pot with bread or on top of mash.