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2.11.2013

Lentil Stew with Chorizo

This one...takes me back.


Like waaay back.  Back to a time when...

...Saved by the Bell was on WPIX from 5-6pm every. single. day.  I coudln't sleep awhile back and came across the show on The Hub at like 4am and almost died.

...book reports and the scientific method gave me as much anxiety as organizing my translucent plastic pencil case and Lisa Frank folders.  Why would you not need a secret separate compartment for a miniature eraser collection?

...getting ready for bed meant choosing among two drawers full of Umbros.  I can still hear the swishing.  God.  The swishing.

...and weeknight dinner often meant lentil soup with hot dogs or tuna salad with elbow macaroni because my mom's work day was followed by dropping off and picking up kids at softball/ballet/gymnastics/Girl Scouts/horseback riding, and weeknight dinner often had to be fast, easy, and flexible.

My mom's an awesome cook.  We've talked about this.  But sometimes, when you're working full time and carting three girls between after-school activities, you gotta resort to some old standbys that don't require as much "cooking" as they do "putting together."  Or I'm sure you just completely lose your mind.

Wait!  Can we talk about this for a second?  Lentil soup with hot dogs.  Hot dogs!  In our soup!  Gosh, just thinking about it makes me think of 1992.  Delicious 1992.  Tell-tale signs that lentil soup was in the day's plans:  lentils set out to soak in Tupperware starting at 8am and the pressure cooking getting down and dirty at 5:30pm.


So when I read through this recipe for Lentil Stew with Chorizo in this month's Cooks Illustrated, I was sorta totally excited that it's possible to make lentil stew 1) without a hefty pressure cooker, 2) without soaking lentils all day because seriously who can remember to do that?, and 3) with hot dogs that aren't really hot dogs!

I used Smart Sausages Chorizo-style veggie links (haha, husband, fooled ya!), but you can certainly use turkey sausage, or real Chorizo.  Nothing beats the spicy, smoky flavor that Chorizo lends to this stew.  And I also only soaked my lentils for half an hour and used a large soup pot instead of a pressure cooker.  Boom.  What is a pressure cooker, anyway?  Do people register for these babies?

Between the hearty flavor, the abundance of vegetables, and the thick, stew consistency, this throw back will continue to be a standby in this house until skorts come back in style.  Please, God.


Lentil Stew with Chorizo
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 c lentils
1 lb Chorizo sausage, pricked with a fork several times (or turkey sausage (casings removed), Smart Sausages Chorizo-style links, etc)
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot stalk, chopped
2 tbs fresh parsley, minced
Salt/pepper
2 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs paprika
1/2 tbs flour
2 tbs sherry vinegar
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 c water

Preparation:
Place lentils in a heatproof bowl, and cover with 2 cups boiling water.  Let soak for 30 minutes.  Drain well, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbs of the extra virgin olive oil in a large stew or soup pot over medium heat.  Add the sausage and cook until browned on all sides, about 6-8 minutes.  Transfer the sausage to a large plate, and set aside.

Reduce the heat to low and add the chopped onion, carrots, and 1 tbs of the parsley.  Sprinkle with salt.  Cover, and cook until the vegetables are very soft but not brown, about 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add the lentils and sherry vinegar to the vegetables, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vinegar starts to evaporate, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the water, sausage, and bay leaf to the pot.  Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining tbs of oil in a small saucepan over medium heat-low heat.  Add the garlic and paprika.  Cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.  Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute longer.  The mixture should resemble a thick paste.  Set aside.

Remove the sausage and bay leaf from the lentils, and stir the paprika mixture into the lentils.  Continue to cook until the flavors have blended, about 10-15 minutes.  Discard the bay leaf, and cut the sausage into 1/4-inch-thick slices.  Return the sausage to the soup with the remaining parsley.  Stir to heat through and season with salt/pepper as needed.





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