Until last night I'd never cooked lentils before. I bought a package a couple of weeks ago and I'm just now getting around to cooking them. So I decided to do them pretty simply with chorizo sausage in a kind of stew sort of thing.
I know that chorizo and lentils is a pretty classic combo but as I was looking through various recipes for inspiration I found a lot of discrepancy in the way the dish is prepared.
There were some recipes suggesting just adding the sausage to the cooking lentils - this I couldn't fathom since so much of the flavour from chorizo comes from the release of oils as it's being fried up.
There were some recipes calling for a cooking of the lentils in plain water with no additional seasonings added - I had to refer back to my Julia Child lessons here and insist on cooking my lentils with aromatic vegetables and some chicken stock to add immediate layers of flavour.
On the flip side to the plain water recipes some suggested cooking the lentils in straight stock. Some even added wine to the mix - I may have gone with straight stock (i just didn't have enough on hand)
...speaking of stock, I've become a total freak about making my own. If anyone's interested in a post on stock making, let me know!
Where was I? Right, cooking the lentils in wine - I just couldn't do it. I totally wanted some wine in the dish but it didn't make sense to me to only have it in the cooking liquid. I added my wine at a point when I could incorporate it into the whole dish.
Some recipes had the fully cooked lentils being added to the separately cooked sausage at the very last minute before serving. I envisioned more melding of the flavours. I figured if I waited to add the two components together at the last minute I'd missing out on an opportunity to allow the lentils to soak up the oils from the chorizo.
So this is what I came up, kind of a combo of what I saw as the best of all the recipes I found.
SeaBass had never had lentils before either...and was disturbed by the look of them when he came home - he's getting a little suspicious in his old age. I think he's spending too much time with my Dad.
But he loved them! After slopping down to super-human sized bowls he started feeding me suggestions for more lentil dishes.
As for me, I thought they were pretty damn good - if I do say so myself. The smokiness of the chorizo, the slight sweetness of the onion and garlic, the heat from the chili flakes made their way into every bit of the rich, slightly al dente lentils. The addition of the lentil cooking water blends everything together and adds even more lentil flavour. I love the pop of each individual lentil in your mouth.
This is a totally simple dish that I will be cooking again and again.
Chorizo and Lentils
1 cup lentils
3 cups liquid (I used a combo of chicken stock and water)
1 whole carrot
2 whole celery stalks (with leaves)
1/2 bay leaf
1 tbsp olive oil
handful of chili flakes
2 links sweet chorizo
1 white onion diced
3 gloves garlic finely diced
good splash of white wine
Add lentils, liquid (stalk, water or combo), carrot, celery and bay leaf to pot.
Bring lentils to boil uncovered.
Cover and turn heat down to low.
Allow to simmer for 15-20 mins (the lentils will still be very firm).
While lentils are cooking heat olive oil and chili flakes in deep saute pan or pot.
Add onion and garlic to pan and saute until translucent.
Dice chorizo and add to pan.
Saute until chorizo is cooked through.
Remove from heat until lentils are cooked.
When lentils are ready return chorizo to heat.
Add splash of white wine to deglaze pan.
Allow to cook down for a couple of minutes.
Drain liquid from lentils. Reserve liquid.
Remove carrot, celery, etc. from lentils.
Add lentils to pan with chorizo.
Add 1/2 cup of liquid from lentils.
Cook on low heat until lentils reach desired consistency.Continue to add liquid if needed to keep the mixture loose and stew like.