Lentils with red wine

Serves 4
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The wine gives the lentils a richer flavour than simple simmering; the method is similar to making a risotto. The lentils make a great accompaniment for meats such as guinea fowl or grilled rabbit, or robust fish such as red mullet or sardine. Don't be surprised if the lentils take a long time to cook, as the acidity in the red wine slows down the cooking process.

3 tbsp olive oil
250g/8oz lentils
100g/31/2 oz pancetta, in one large piece
4 fresh bay leaves
1 sprig of thyme
A bottle of Chianti
1 litre/13/4 pints of chicken stock, warmed
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and pounded
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Place the olive oil in a thick-bottomed saucepan on a medium heat.

Add the pancetta, thyme, bay and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. The pancetta should not be allowed to crisp.

Add the lentils and stir well to coat in the olive oil. Add the wine and allow the lentils to absorb it.

Add the chicken stock ladle by ladle, allowing the lentils to absorb the stock before you add any more.

Cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still have a little bite.