February 12, 2010

Chicken and Lentils

something about lentils. i see them in the store, i think to myself "i like lentils, they come in different colors (fun!) and they're a quick cook, why not?" then i buy a pound. after this i they sit in my cabinet for about a year taunting me, guilting me for ever bringing them home and letting them waste away when someone else could be making a delicious dinner out of them. in my defense; i had a bit of an incident with lentils a few years back when i was vegan and just getting back into the swing of cooking. it seemed that a.) i was very very poor and b.) wanted to cook only super simple (and by this i mean only water and maybe salt) to compliment my bachelorette life. this horrible combo doesn't really give optimal results - in other words everything tasted like crap. but with no one else to share this food like stuff with, i never felt the need to say, go out and by a few spices or maybe some quality olive oil. to make an already long story short - i made some kind of lintel dish that tasted just like - i am not kidding or exaggerating - it tasted like dirt.
alright so now we come full circle: after the being plagued for months by the brown lintels sadly sitting there every-time i reached for the black beans or brown rice i found this NYTimes recipe for chicken and lentils. i'm on a dutch oven kick lately, maybe its just the winter thing, and this was a perfect fit. i think this dinner cured me of my dirt eating phobia. this was perfect! its a great winter(y) dish that isn't heavy or overly "stew like", if that even makes sense. try it out, i promise you wont be sorry. its cheap to make, scrumptious and best of all doesn't take much man power.
i made a few changes to the original recipe: completely omitted the 2 garlic cloves, used apple cider vinegar and removed the chicken skin after browning - i find the skin just gives off too much fat and turns slimy when slow cooked, but make sure to leave it on when you are browning the chicken it adds flavor when it needs to. oh and next time i think i'll add in carrots. delish all the same. enjoy!

1 tbs olive oil
2oz pancetta (thick slice - one should be 2oz), diced
1 1/2 lb skin-on, bone-in chicken thigh (organic)
1c finely chopped onion
1/2c finely chopped celery
1 tsp fresh ground cumin
1c lentils
1 1/2c chopped radicchio (1/2 head-cored)
1 1/2 - 2c chicken stock
1tbs finely chopped fresh sage
1 1/2tsp apple cider vinegar

*preheat oven in 300F
*over medium heat, heat oil in dutch oven, add pancetta and cook to golden - remove and reserve
*season chicken with salt and pepper, add to dutch oven and brown
*remove chicken and reserve, remove the skin once slightly cooled, pour off all but 2tbs of the fat
*add the onion and celery, saute until translucent, scraping the pan down to get all the browned bits up .
*add in the cumin - cook until fragrant
*add in radicchio, sage and vinegar - saute briefly
*add lentil, reserved pancetta and stock
*add reserved chicken, bring to a simmer, cover and cook in oven 1 hour
*check after 45 to add more stock if you need to.
*after an hour the lentils should be done and the chicken just about to fall off the bones. season to taste and serve.
(makes about 2-3 servings)

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