What is it about winter that makes me want to eat bread all day? Everyday. And pasta too. With garlic bread on the side. I’ve made a bunch of soups these past weeks which I figured would make for healthful lunches (when I make a soup I make like, a bucket of it). And yes there were healthful lunches, I suppose, if you consider the buttered the roll I ate everyday alongside healthful too. Ah well. And the ironic part is it’s not even been that cold out! Today reached such a balmy 65 degrees that our daffodil bulbs lovingly planted last fall are coming up they’re so confused! So anyway, I needed a meal that was carb-free … ish. And while legumes are technically carbs I guess – (insert scrunched up frowny face here), they’re certainly neither bread nor pasta, which was plenty good enough for me. The recipe shot to the top of my must-try list.
I’m super glad it did, because this was fantastic! Definitely one of those must-make every season, repeatedly, type recipes. And it’s a simple dish to throw together too. The (abbreviated) rundown – rub colorful red spice with fancy-sounding Spanish name on chicken, bake. Meanwhile, simmer lentils with some stuff. Puree said stuff. Add back to lentils. Serve. OK, maybe I skipped a few minor details, but that’s the rough draft if you will. The point is, it’s not hard. Completely doable on a weeknight. And so rewarding.
The ‘stuff’ you’re simmering the lentils with – green bell pepper, whole garlic cloves, carrot, leek – really infuse the lentils with nice flavor. As those vegetables simmer their flavors intensify and sweeten; pureed and added back into the lentils is just brilliant – such an A-HA idea right?! I had total respect for the recipe just reading it.
The chicken thighs will render some fat as they bake. This is OK. Just lift them out of the baking dish with tongs and if you like, pat off any excess grease. OR you could bake them on a rack over a baking sheet. I don’t often enjoy chicken with the skin so when I do, it’s such a treat! And it makes the chicken more filling, so for me in this case 1 thigh was plenty and our sweet pooch got to enjoy some yummy leftovers (but no chicken skin for the pooch, just shredded meat, fancy-sounding spices washed off – she didn’t seem to mind).
roast chicken thighs with lentil stew
- 6 Tbs olive oil
- 2 slices thicker-cut bacon
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 quart chicken stock or broth
- 8 garlic cloves, plus 1 Tbs chopped garlic
- 1 medium carrot, halved lengthwise
- 1 small leek, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise and rinsed
- 1 large green bell pepper, quartered
- 1 1/4 cup green (French) lentils
- 1 thyme sprig
- 4 large chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on (about 2 lbs)
- Pimentón de la Vera
- 2 tsp sherry vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 450. In a large saucepan, heat 1 Tbs oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until golden brown, about 4 min. Add the onion and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes, until softened. Add the stock, whole garlic cloves, carrot, leek, bell pepper, lentils and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, until lentils are tender.
2. Meanwhile, pat chicken dry with paper towels. In a baking dish, drizzle chicken with 1 Tbs oil and season generously with salt and pimentón, rubbing spices into the skin with your fingers. Roast on the top rack of the oven for about 40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear when pierced with a knife.
3. Discard the thyme sprig from lentils. Transfer the garlic, carrot, leek, and bell pepper to a blender. Add 1/4 cup cooking liquid and puree. Drain the lentils and return them to the pot. Stir in the pureed vegetables.
4. In a small skillet, heat remaining 1/4 cup oil. Add the chopped garlic and cook over low heat 1 minute. Add 1 tsp pimentón. Scrape the mixture into the lentils and simmer 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and season to taste with salt. Serve the chicken over the lentils.
Serves 2-4 (depending on 1 or 2 pieces chicken per person)
Serve with a green salad or green vegetable. (Or if you must, with crusty bread. I won’t tell).
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine magazine, Feb 2012