Braised Lentils…Oh, Baby Oh, Baby

April 19, 2010

 It is a hard matter, my fellow citizens, to argue with the belly since it has no ears.
~Plutarch

A uniquely human quandry (luxury) in pampered modern civilization.  Subdued by what to eat, what to eat?  What sounds good tonight?  What are you in the mood for? Perhaps this will help some.

So often, indecision reigns with side dishes, particularly “starches”…searching for a bingo! in that seemingly endless cerebral scroll of rices, potatoes, tubers, squashes, couscous, polentas, risottos, noodles, pastas, and the like.  When in doubt, braised lentils are a favored plate guest sidled up to, spooning next to, or submissively underneath roasted, grilled or braised meats, poultry or fish.  These often untapped legumes are damn facile and as well as superlatively healthy.  Once on board, it’s hard not to obssess about blissful, earthy lentils.

BRAISED LENTILS

1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 C quality slab bacon, diced
1/2 C shallots, peeled and minced
1/2 C carrot, peeled and minced
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 C green lentils, picked through for stones, etc.
1 1/2 C water
2 C chicken stock
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil, and then add the bacon, onion, carrot and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils, water, stock, thyme and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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