Puy Lentils Straight from the Ghetto

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Caramelized Puy Lentils

Puy Lentils. I know, boring, right? You bring them home with the best intentions and promptly bury them in the hippy-dippy, healthfood ghetto of the pantry. Which means, if you’re like me, you always have lentils in the cupboard. Open the door if you don’t believe me, you’ll see them staring back at you – bland and brown. Or brownish-green or brownish-yellow, depending on how you squint your eyes. Lentils are the sparrows of the legume world. However, as with many humble ingredients, there’s a pleasing lilt in their tweet. These little pellets of goodness are chock-full of protein and able to carry serious flavor. Reason enough for a little culinary ghetto busting.

It’s also why, if I found myself destined for a deserted island, I’d hoard Puy lentils before penne or potatoes. I could live long and prosperous eating bowls of them with nothing more than some salt, pepper, and very good olive oil. Most deserted islands have EVOO, right?

Caramelized Puy Lentils

Like I said, lentils don’t need much more than very good olive oil, but sometimes you want to make them extra-special. Caramelized lentils are extra special.

I’ve been cooking from a new cookbook from Naomi Pomeroy – Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking. Her Caramelized Lentils du Puy caught my eye right away because they’re uniquely twice-cooked. First, they’re boiled in a red wine broth which brings a fruity depth to the earthiness we typically associate with lentils. Then they’re caramelized in a red wine, tomato, and anchovy glaze until they develop crisp edges and  a surprising amount of umami. My list of deserted island essentials just got longer. GREG

Caramelized Puy lentils

Caramelized Lentils du Puy

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-6Source Adapted from Naomi Pomeroy, Taste & TechniquePublished
Caramelized Lentils du Puy

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup Puy lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • 6 cup water
  • 3 cup red wine (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more for seasoning)
  • 6 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (plus more for seasoning)
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon extra-vitgin olive oil
  • ⅓ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Make the lentils: Place the lentils in a saucepan with 6 cups water and 2 cups red wine. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and then lower the heat slightly so the lentils are actively simmering but not quite boiling. After 20 minutes the lentils should be al dente. At which point you can add 1 tablespoon salt and stir well. Once salted turn the heat off and let the lentils sit about 20 more minutes and then drain them well. Spread the drained lentils on a baking sheet to cool without further cooking.

Make the mirepoix: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, and carrots; season generously with salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender but toothsome, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to stop cooking.

Make the glaze: In a small saucepan, combine remaining 1 cup red wine, thyme, and garlic and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a gentle simmer and cook until the wine is reduced to a syrupy 2 tablespoons. Watch it carefully so as not to reduce it too far or scorch it. Strain the reduction into a small jar with a lid, discarding the solids. Add vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar, garlic paste, anchovy paste, and mustard. Shake thoroughly to combine.

Assemble the dish: Divide the lentils, the mirepoix, and the glaze into two batches each. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, nonreactive sauté pan over medium heat. Add a batch of the glaze and stir it as it sputters until the oil and glaze begins to separate and clump. Add a batch of the lentils, turn the heat up to medium-high and stir only occasionally for about 3 minutes until some of the edges begin to get crisp and lightly browned. Add a batch of the mirepoix and cook an additional minute, stirring often. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and repeat the process with the remaining olive oil, lentils, glaze, and mirepoix.

To serve: Gently reheat the lentils over medium-high heat, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and stir in parsley. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

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