chicken and lentils

I think my most difficult habit to break is always having a ton of food around the house. Or, more realistically, it’s cooking portions or amounts small enough that there’s not a ton of food around the house.

It’s a challenge cooking for two. If I make a farro salad and use only a half-cup of farrow – before cooking – by the time I’m done adding everything else, I have a ton of salad. It just keeps growing. And then there’s the issue of making small portions but then having half a carrot, a third of a bell pepper, 2 mushrooms… During soup season it can all go into a pot. However, right now it’s a million degrees with humidity, outside – it’s not soup season! I want a varied menu, but once the leftover ingredients start piling up, it’s time to get creative and use ’em, because we all know how much I hate throwing out food. Tonight’s dinner addressed some of those leftover ingredients…

I have been making lentil dishes for years – I really like lentils in all their different varieties – and they’re the perfect foil for tying a bunch of otherwise disparate ingredients together. Tonight, we had lentilles du Puy – French green lentils – my favorite variety for making side dishes. I like them because they hold their shape well. And, they taste good. The concept for this dish came from the NY Times Cooking section.

Chicken and Lentils

  • 4 oz pancetta, diced
  • 2 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 cups chopped escarole
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup letils du puy
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 300°F/150°C. Brown pancetta in an oven-proof casserole. Set aside.

Brown the chicken thighs in the same pan. Set aside.

Add leeks, celery, and carrots to pot. Cook until vegetables begin to soften and brown a bit. Add garlic and cook about a minute more.

Stir in cumin and then add sage, and vinegar. Stir, and then add reserved pancetta and escarole, letting it wilt a bit. Stir in lentils and broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Place chicken atop escarole and lentils, cover, and bake in oven for about an hour, adding a tad more broth if necessary.

Check for seasoning and add S&P, as required.

It has everything going for it – starting with a great flavor. And it’s ridiculously easy to make!