Friday, 8 June 2012
A little bit of France and using up stuff from cupboards - Chicken and Puy Lentils
I bought lentils ages ago for a soup that I didn't make, and they have been there, making me feel guilty every time I open the cupboard. I had to use them up really, but soup wasn't what I was thinking of, although I tell you if you look outside here today you would think that is was Autumn. Dreadfully windy, cold and British summer like. Typical soup weather. No wonder I spend from May to September in a bad mood.
Anyway, I had passed over the chicken and lentil idea forever for some misguided reason that I wouldn't be too keen on it. Wrong. I never really understood how lentils are able to hoover up the delicious flavours of whatever you put with them. Puy lentils pleasingly keep their shape and provide texture as well as great flavour, and they accompany chicken so well. And, it filled me up, and the kids, who after major reservations about the what the dish looked like (let's face it, lentils are never going to win the beauty contest for pulses; the black eyed pea is a shoe in for that particular title if you ask me) made good attempts with Lola, not unsurprisingly, making the best attempt and Finn, giving it his best shot, which involves a few minutes pushing it around the plate before eating some of it. I would make it for them again, because really there is nothing not to like.
Anyway, Puy lentils, I salute you all, every last one of you.
Chicken with Puy Lentils
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad
225g/8oz Puy Lentils
3 tbsp olive oil
6 boneless chicken thighs
125g/4½oz pancetta or bacon lardons, cubed
300ml/1/2 pint chicken stock
1 leek, trimmed, finely diced
2 carrots peeled, finely diced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the Puy lentils according to packet instructions, then drain.
Season the chicken. Then, using about half of the oil in a frying pan over a low heat, cook the chicken thighs, turning them over from time to time to ensure even cooking. Mine were boneless and took about 15 minutes or so, but pierce the meat to check for clear juices to ensure that the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the chicken thighs from the pan and set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Keep them warm.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in the same frying pan and fry the pancetta for 5 minutes, or until browned.
Add the leek and carrot for 8-10 minutes, or until softened.
Stir in the cooked lentils and the chicken stock. Simmer the mixture for 2-3 minutes, or until the vegetables are completely tender.
To serve, spoon the lentils into wide bowls and top with the chicken thighs whole or sliced.