Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Peruvian-ish lentils with chorizo

I was feeling adventurous the other day and decided to experiment with lentils. I ended up sort of combining two recipes, using this one as a base and this one for inspiration. The next night, heating up the leftovers, I had the brilliant idea of getting some chorizo involved, and thus, Peruvian-ish lentils with chorizo were born. The recipe still needs some work (feel free to leave ideas in the comments!), but it was tasty enough that I figured it was worth posting about.

To recreate what I made, you will need:

2 cups lentils
1 chicken boullion cube
1 bunch parsley
2 red onions
lots and lots of garlic
crushed red chili
red wine vinegar
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 can tomatoes
1 cup forbidden rice

Put your lentils in a big pot with the stems from your parsley, chicken boullion cube, and a few cloves of garlic (I actually forgot about the garlic part, but I think you should try it. The Jamie Oliver recipe suggests a bay leaf too I just noticed, so add that as well, even though I didn't). Pour 8 cups or so of boiling water over it - the recipes vary in their amounts, but lentils drink lots of water.

As they cook, mince a few cloves of garlic and put them in a big pot with some oil over medium-low heat. Stir for a minute, then add your cup of rice (I used forbidden rice, because I had some and thought it would look pretty, but regular rice will probably do as well). Stir to coat, then add 2 1/2 cups of boiling water and turn the heat to very low.

Now, chop up an onion and a few more cloves of garlic. Set a smaller pot on the stove with some oil and sautee your onion and garlic over low heat for a minute or two. Once the onion softens, add some crushed red chili and a few spoons of cinnamon. Cook for another minute or two, then crank the heat and splash in a glug of red wine vinegar. Stir well, lower the heat, and add the tomatoes. I know Jamie Oliver says to do this first, but when I did, it cooked way too long and became too thick. As discussed below, this part of the recipe is the most iffy. It could easily be replaced with something better.

Now you wait, and chop up your parsley. Put it in a bowl. Then, chop up your second onion and a few more cloves of garlic and set aside. Open your can of peppers and remove them one by one, being careful not to lose their delicious sauce. Chop them up.

Your lentils and rice should be finishing up around the same time. Drain the lentils, remove the parsley stems and bay leaf, if you used it, and return to the pot. Then add the rice and stir to combine.* In a small-medium pan, fry the onion and garlic. When they're soft, add the chipotle peppers and their sauce. Stir until heated through, then add to the lentils and rice and stir.  Then add the parsley. Top with the salsa (ie, the tomato cinnamon thingy).

Oh, and the chorizo! As mentioned, I added it the next day. Basically, I fried it, breaking it up, and then added the cold rice-lentils concoction to the pan. I guess you could either fry the chorizo earlier. Perhaps with the onions, garlic, and peppers. But the basic idea is, you mix everything together =-)

Here's the deal though. The recipe is flavorful, but not so well balanced. The chipotle peppers and chorizo dominate. The tomato-cinnamon was a nice touch flavor wise, but it sort of added to the melange of adobo and chorizo in a not especially inspired way. I'm not entirely sure what to do about that. I would prefer, actually, to go with Italian sausages, as per Jamie Oliver's recipe, but I just didn't have any. For the chorizo variant, I might try to improvise on the original Peruvian recipe idea, which involves frying all this up at the end. My plan is to try, perhaps for lunch tomorrow, frying up a little more chorizo, combining it in a bowl with some of the lentil-rice concoction (because I still have tons of it left), and then, get this - combining it with some egg and frying that. I think the egg might mellow out the other flavors some.

The bigger problem, for me, is that it was overly dry. The salsa added some liquid, but not nearly enough (perhaps because I cooked it too long). I think ideally you'd really get some kind of good gravy like thing going for this.

I dunno. It's a work in progress. But the dinner guests I fed it to raved about it, and I did find it quite tasty, albeit somewhat monotone as a main dish, so I wanna stick with the idea and see what I can do with it.

*I would consider adding some butter to the rice when it's done cooking, and letting it sit for a minute, then adding it to the lentils. Living in Turkey has converted me to well buttered rice. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fou lard (bacon scarf)

I have to admit, I find it strangely beautiful. I kind of want one.

(The above image is from here, and I also need to give credit to my friend Alaska Jane for alerting me to it in the first place)