Chicken with Lentils

by Kristin on February 26, 2010

I know this dish doesn’t sound like much. In fact, on the night I had planned to make it, it suddenly sounded so boring and unappealing that I briefly debated ordering take-out instead and wondered what I’d been thinking when choosing to make this earlier in the week as part of my weekly meal planning. But I’m glad I resisted the fleeting urge to order pizza — it was surprisingly delicious, and we liked the leftovers the next day even better. This meal isn’t going to win any beauty contests either (the lack of photo today is no accident), but you’ll be so busy tucking in that you won’t care too much.

Chicken with Lentils
adapted from The New York Times, January 20, 2010

Serves 4 to 6

You could also serve this with a pan-fried salmon fillet instead of chicken (you can follow the instructions for cooking the salmon here).

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb (225 g) bacon, diced
3 lb (1.4 kg) chicken thighs (about 6 to 8 thighs), patted dry
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
2 leeks, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 head radicchio, cored and finely chopped (don’t worry if you can’t find this, just leave it out)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 cups (400 g) green or Puy lentils
3 cups (720 ml) chicken stock, more if needed
crusty bread, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the bacon and cook on a medium heat, until golden. Remove. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pot, skin side down. Sear until golden on a medium-high heat, working in two batches if necessary. Remove from the pan. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan.

Add the onions, leeks, celery and carrots and cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the cumin. Add the radicchio, if using, the vinegar and thyme and saute briefly. Add the lentils, stock and cooked bacon.

Return the chicken to pan, bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, but not all. The lentils should be saucelike but not soupy. Add a little more stock if needed. Check the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed, then serve with crusty bread.

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