Pan-Fried Gurnard with Spicy Sausage and Lentils
Who would have thought that we would still be enduring snow in March? With this cold and very confusing weather my thoughts turn to hearty dishes with bags of flavour. My head tells me we should start to cook lighter dishes with a feeling of spring, but my heart and stomach are asking for hearty soul food. This recipe has bags of flavour and soul and is definitely satisfying. We shall leave the lighter spring-like dishes for another week or two.
We are lucky enough to have plenty of good butchers to choose from in our area, we buy our sausages from Five Winds Farm, and I believe their spicy British-made chorizo-style sausages are delicious and the best we can buy in the local area. They are packed full of flavour with an ever so slightly mild spiciness which makes them the perfect ingredient to use in recipes such as this one and also in my very popular Mushroom and English Chorizo Minestrone Soup.
Gurnard is a rather peculiar-looking fish, for me it’s quite pretty, but others describe it as an ugly fish. It’s got a large head with large wing-type fins that help it to stay upright when feeding at the bottom of the seabed. Red gurnard is regularly available in the British waters around our coasts and it’s easy to come by. It’s a fairly bony fish with a firm flesh, that is quite bland, but when cooked with the spicy chorizo-style sausages, it’s delicious and the combination works very well together. Gurnard is fairly inexpensive, which makes this dish a perfect mid-week supper recipe.
If you are super-organised, then cook the Puy lentils and sausages a day in advance and keep them refrigerated until needed. Make sure when reheating the sausages and lentils that the mixture is roasting hot before serving. Enjoy!
Serves 4 as a main course
- 3 spicy British chorizo-style sausages (about 200g in total)
- 300g Puy lentils
- 80ml rapeseed oil, plus 2 tablespoons for cooking the fish
- 150g fennel (prepared weight), finely diced
- 80g celery (prepared weight), finely diced
- 2 banana shallots, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed herbs (such as parsley, tarragon, chives and chervil)
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 6 x 100g gurnard fillets, skin on, scales and bones removed
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Place the sausages in a roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until cooked and golden brown. Remove from the oven. The sausages should have released some red paprika oil; reserve this. Let the sausages cool, then slice them into 5mm-thick slices and mix with the reserved paprika oil. Set aside and keep warm.
Meanwhile, cook the Puy lentils. Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover generously with cold water. Cover the pan with a lid and bring to a simmer over a medium heat, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and place the lid on an angle. Cook the lentils for 15–20 minutes, then season with salt and cook for a further 2 minutes or until the lentils are soft but still firm. Remove from the heat, drain and refresh in cold running water, then drain again and place in a clean bowl. Cover, set aside and keep warm.
Heat the 80ml rapeseed oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add the fennel, celery, shallots, garlic, smoked paprika and salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the shallots are soft and starting to colour. Add the cooked Puy lentils, the roasted sausages and sausage oil, the sherry vinegar, chopped herbs and lemon zest and juice. Mix and keep warm while you cook the fish.
Cut each gurnard fillet in half to serve 3 pieces per portion. Heat the remaining oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, season the fish with salt only and then pan-fry the fish, skin-side down first, over a high heat for about 3 minutes or until the skin is golden and crisp. Turn the heat down to medium, turn the fish over and cook for a further 1 minute.
To serve, divide the lentil mixture between 4 serving plates, place 3 pieces of pan-fried gurnard on each plate, drizzle over some of the pan oils and serve immediately with a dressed crisp garden salad.