I’m a little short on words today, mostly because I’m currently sitting in one of my favorite places in Columbia and they just plopped a pesto turkey sandwich on French bread with tomato soup right in front of me. If you’re ever in the area, try the Gourmet Shop. Le best.
Before I check out and start beasting on this hit-the-spot meal, I wanted to give the run down on lentils. The little pea-like, bean-like round things we eat are actually the seeds of the lentil plant, which grow in pods. They are inexpensive and, boy, are they crazy about the health of humans. They are packed with protein, fiber, iron, and lots of vitamins and minerals. Plus, they are excellent tummy fillers and soak up the good flavors of whatever you’re cooking them in.
braised chicken with lentils
prep time: 5 minutes cook time: 1 hour yield: 4 servings
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds skinless chicken thighs, bone-in
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
a touch of cayenne pepper
2 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup lentils
Preheat the oven to 350º. Season the chicken with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. In a large, oven-proof skillet that has a lid, heat the oil on the stove over medium heat (no lid is needed yet). Add the chicken and cook, turning to allow both sides to sear, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Lower the heat to medium-low and add the sliced onion. Add a little cayenne to taste. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes, and then stir in the mustard.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in 2 cups of the chicken stock while scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the lentils, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Cook the lentils for about 10 minutes.
Return the chicken to the skillet. If the liquid has evaporated while cooking the lentils, add more stock until it covers the chicken about half-way (I found I had to add about 1 cup more at this point). Cover with the lid and transfer to the oven. Cook, turning once, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 160º, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. If you find that your lentils still have a little bite to them, just remove the chicken and heat the lentil mixture on the stove until it reaches your desired texture.
Someone at the table beside me, and I know this is random, just said, “I know that it’s a good thing, I just can’t see it yet.” I have no idea what she was talking about, but I thought it was beautiful. Sometimes eavesdropping is a blessing.