Stews have a pretty high positive predictive value when it comes to diagnostic tools.
They sit on the stove, simmering away. Perfuming your entire apartment with their luscious scent.
And you sit at your desk, ostensibly studying but most probably watching Glee. Or the Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion. Depending on just how trashy you feel at the moment.
Sniffing away. Your stomach growling with reckless abandon.
You become inured to the smell after a while, your olfactory receptors adapting so that they don’t get overly stimulated and burned out. But every once in a while they recharge. You get a whiff. And think. Damn that smells good.
And it’s at this moment that you can rest assured that your first cranial nerve is in good working order, you lucky dog, you.
The significance of which is that you will not be getting Alzheimer’s Disease in the next ten years. Rock. On.
(Yes, it’s true. Studies have shown that people who eventually go on to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s lose their sense of smell approximately ten years prior to its onset. Crazy.)
Once I discovered this, I immediately started to smell everything in sight. Which is not necessarily a good thing when the objects in sight are dirty laundry and old gym clothes.
But is truly an awesome thing when you have a huge pot of red lentils, sausage, and tomatoes simmering away on the stove. First of all, because you get to reassure yourself that you will not be going senile at the ripe old age of 33. And second of all because. After the extremely strenuous diagnostic testing is over. You get to eat this stew. Which, with it’s rustic charm. Is possibly one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made.
So, have a cranial nerve testing party. Invite all your friends. All in the name of public health, of course. And eat this stew knowing that, although it tastes damn good, you’re really just doing it for your health. After all, it’s never too early to get tested.
Homemade Italian Sausage
Makes 1.5 lb, adapted from Symon’s Live To Cook
1 1/2 lb pork shoulder, either diced or ground by your grocer
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted
1. Combine the meat, sugar, salt, garlic, and fennel seeds in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. If you diced the meat, then grind the sausage in a grinder or food processor. Return it to the fridge to cool for 30 minutes. If you bought the meat already ground, then you are good to go!
Italian Sausage and Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Stew
Serves 4, adapted from Closet Cooking
1/2 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
red pepper flakes, to taste
1 cup red wine
1 cup red lentils
2 cups chicken broth
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 roasted red bell peppers, diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
parsley and feta cheese for garnish
1. Cook the sausage in a large pot, breaking into crumbles with a spatula as you go. Set aside.
2. Heat the oil in the same pot. Add the onion and carrots, and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and chili pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
4. Add the red wine and deglaze the pan. Add the sausage, lentils, chicken broth, tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers, bay leaf, oregano, and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with chopped parsley and feta crumbles.
This is my submission to Symon Sundays, hosted by Ashlee over at Veggie by Season, to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Winnie of Healthy Green Kitchen, and to Souper Sundays hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen. This is linked to Finding Joy in My Kitchen’s Countdown to 2011!