Few dishes speak bistro better than saucisson (French garlic sausage) with lentilles du Puy. It’s the kind of humble yet gutsy dish people expect at a French-inspired restaurant and one we served in the winter months at Restaurant du Village.

The dish consists of poached fresh sausage, cooked French green lentils and a sherry or mustard vinaigrette. You can eat it as an appetizer or small meal. The choice of ingredients matters more than the cooking technique, although there are a couple of specific steps worth following.

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We hang the fresh sausage overnight in our kitchen. While hanging, the sausage dries out slightly and begins the curing process. After cooking, the sausage is slightly firmer and more flavorful.

We like to use the saucisson à l’ail from Salumeria Biellese.

Billese saucisson a lail

The raw saucisson à l’ail, pictured here before curing overnight, is tied with string draped in a way that makes it easy to lift from the simmering water.

Uncured saucisson

After curing overnight, the saucisson à l’ail shrinks slightly and takes on a deeper color.

Cured saucisson

To brighten the flavor of the cooked lentils, dress them with sherry wine vinegar, shallots, and oil. This vinaigrette works well with legumes and beans as well as on fatty fish such as salmon. Naturally, you could simply use a mustard vinaigrette instead. (Or, forget the lentils and serve the saucisson with warm potato salad with vinaigrette dressing.)

Kitchen Notebook – Finding Saucisson a l’Ail

This dish requires two ingredients worth finding, the sausage and the tiny green lentils grown in France.

Saucisse means sausage in French. Saucisson is its big brother. And saucisson à l’ail is a 2 to 2 ½-inch round long fresh sausage made with pork and garlic, spiced with mace. Its distinct, slightly porky flavor is unmistakable and essential to capture the authentic dish. (It is also used in cassoulet so order a couple and put on in the freezer.)  Salumeria Biellese in New York makes saucisson to sell in its shop or to its restaurant customers.  That is the one we served for years. And I was pleased to find it locally at Fromage in Old Saybrook, CT.

D’Artagnan, another favorite brand sometimes makes it as does Trois Petits Cochons.  Worst case you could try the dish with a fat kielbasa. The flavor will be quite different but the texture and eating experience will evoke the countryside in winter.

Please do NOT buy saucisson sec, dry sausage.  Save that for your charcuterie board.

French lentils from the Puy in the Auvergne are a different breed from what we use to make creamy soup in the US. Tiny like beetles and a deep gray green, they retain their identity and slight texture even after cooking. Whole Foods and other well-stocked grocers may carry them. Sabarot is one excellent brand, which bears the A.O.C. mark. This quality mark means that is it guaranteed a product of the specified French region. And of course, Puy lentils are easy to find on the internet.

Saucisson (French Garlic Sausage) with Lentilles du Puy

Yield: 6- 8 Servings

Saucisson (French Garlic Sausage) with Lentilles du Puy


For the Saucisson:

1 – 1 ¼ pounds saucisson à l’ail, fresh French garlic sausage

For the Green Lentils:

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup minced shallots, about 1 large

1/3 cup minced celery, about 1 medium stalk

½ cup minced carrot, about 1 large

1 cup lentilles du Puy, French green lentils, picked through and rinsed

2 ½ – 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, more if needed

Bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Sherry Vinaigrette Dressing

1/4 cup sherry or red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots or white onion

Salt and a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper to taste

2/3 cup walnut oil or peanut oil

Dijon mustard


  1. Remove the saucisson from its packaging. Hang it up in a cool dry place overnight, if desired.
  2. When ready to serve the dish, cover the saucisson with water in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Cook gently until it is cooked and warm throughout, for 30– 40 minutes. The internal temperature on an instant-read thermometer should reach 165°F.
  3. To cook the lentils, heat a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, shallots, celery and carrot. Cook stirring occasionally without browning.
  4. Add the lentils, stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender and cooked through, for 30 – 35 minutes. Add more stock or water while cooking to keep the lentils moist. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.
  5. Make the Sherry Vinaigrette while the saucisson is cooking. Combine the vinegar, chopped shallots, salt and pepper in a blender on high speed. Add the oil and blend a minute or two until the dressing emulsifies. To help keep the dressing from separating, add 1 Tablespoon of hot water and blend for a few more seconds. Or whisk it together right before using.
  6. To serve, remove the casing on the saucisson if necessary. Slice it into ½-inch thick pieces. Serve the saucisson with some of the lentils dressed with the Sherry Vinaigrette and Dijon mustard on the side.