Saturday, September 8, 2012

Roast Chicken Thighs with Lentil Stew

While I follow a lot of chefs, one of the true standouts is Jose Andrés.  Living in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, I have the great fortune of being within an easy driving distance of several of Chef Andrés' restaurants.  I have enjoyed some amazing meals at places like Jaleo, Zatinya and Oyamel.  (I still drool whenever I think of the beef tongue taco, pork belly taco and grasshopper tacos at Oyamel.)  I have even been able to enjoy Chef Andres' creations at China Poblano in Las Vegas.  

According to Chef Andrés, this Roast Chicken Thighs with Lentil Stew recipe "is the sort of simple, humble food I have at home with my family on Friday night."  It sounded so good that I decided to bring this dish to my home.  While I have made other recipes by Chef Andrés, such as Chipirones con Cebolla Caramelizada and Vieiras con Albariño, this recipe marked the first time that I have cooked with lentils.  And, while I cannot recall, it was also probably the first time I ate lentils. 

The key to this dish is the pimentón (or paprika).  Chef Andrés uses Pimentón de la Vera, which I did not have.  However, if you can find a good Spanish paprika, it will definitely enhance the dish.  Overall, this recipe produces a delicious main course.  I still have to work on the presentation.  While this dish pales in comparison to what a Roast Chicken Thighs with Lentil Stew plate would look like coming out of one of Chef Andrés' kitchens, I think it represents a substantial leap in cooking and presentation for me. 

Recipe by Jose Andres and available at Food & Wine
Serves 4
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices of thick-cut bacon, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 quart chicken stock or broth
8 garlic cloves, plus 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 medium carrot, halved lengthwise
1 small leek, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise
1 large green bell pepper, quartered
1 cup green lentils
1 thyme sprig
4 large chicken thighs (2 pounds)
Pimentón de la Vera
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1.  Prepare the stew.  In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the stock, whole garlic cloves, carrot, leek, bell pepper, lentils and thyme and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

2.  Roast the chicken. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a baking dish, drizzle the chicken with 1 tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pimentón. Roast on the top rack for about 40 minutes, until cooked through. 

3.  Continue preparing the stew.  Discard the thyme sprig from the lentils. Transfer the garlic, carrot, leek and bell pepper to a blender. Add 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and puree. Drain the lentils and return them to the pot. Stir in the pureed vegetables.

4.  Finish the dish.  In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil. Add the chopped garlic and cook over low heat for 1 minute. Add 1 teaspoon of pimentón. Scrape the mixture into the lentils and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and season with salt. Serve the lentils in bowls topped with the chicken.


Food and Wine magazine suggests a rich, plummy Merlot as a pairing for this dish.  A red wine is definitely the proper wine to pair with this dish.  If you are looking for a Spanish red wine, consider a Ribero del Duero.  


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