Slowly, I’m learning that even when the sun is shining brightly in Vancouver, it doesn’t always mean it’s warm. I’m not complaining because I actually enjoy the chill in the air and the need to wear a scarf (i.e. I love accessories). And most importantly, I love that a heavy and meaty stew is not a craving you can disregard but is instead a downright necessity in order to warm you after a brisk walk.
Continuing on with my recent desire to recreate Mexican foods, I decided combat the cold weather and make ‘lentejas con frutas’ or ‘lentils with fruit’. It’s not a dish that I would immediately associate with Mexican food and for this reason it intrigued me.
I intentionally overlooked the amount of meat in the recipe and tried not to think about the porky combination of chorizo, smoked pork chops, and bacon. I convinced myself that the healthy lentils would compensate and unclog any arteries filled in by the fatty meat.
Lentils with Fruit
adapted from Mexico: The Beautiful Cookbook
2 cups dried green lentils
8 cups water
1/2 lb. bacon, coarsely chopped
1/2 lb. chorizo, casing removed and chopped
1 cup chopped white onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
1 plantain, peeled and sliced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bunch green onions
4 smoked pork chops
Place the lentils and water into a large pan, bring to a boil. Cover pan, lowering heat and reducing to a simmer for 40 minutes (add water if needed during the cooking). Drain the lentils and reserve the liquid for later use.
In a large pot or dutch oven, saute the bacon for 2 minutes. Add the chorizo and cook covered for 3 minutes. Add the lentils, pineapple, plantain, salt and pepper. Cook covered for 10 minutes.
Add 2 cups of the lentil liquid. Chop green onions into 4″ lengths and add to the dutch oven. Cover and cook at a low simmer for 30 minutes.
While the dutch oven is simmering, heat a skillet with a tablespoon oil and fry the smoked pork chops for 3 minutes on each side. Once the dutch oven has simmered for 30 minutes, add the pork chops and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
It takes a good 2 hours from beginning to end and does use a good amount of meat. But, it also tastes like it’s simmered for 2 hours and it has all sorts of spicy-smokey flavor. I think it’s worth making on occasion, especially on a cold day.
I’ll admit that during the simmering of the meat and fruit, I didn’t much care for the smell of it. I’m not sure what it was but I feared having to eat it. Surprisingly, it tastes delicious and is of course even better the following day (it took us 3 days, lunch and dinner to finish off the pot).
This isn’t a pretty dish by any means. I tried my best to pretty it up but it remains an ugly duckling, albeit a spicy and delicious ugly duckling. My only complaint would be the plantain … I just don’t get plantains (I only enjoy them fried). I would rather replace it next time with potato or some other root veggie.
And, for all the folks following me on Twitter (@eatingoutloud), this is the dish that caused me to mention bones in my chorizo. It’s likely the fact that I buy chorizo from places like Safeway but I always get at least one bite containing a piece of ground up bone. It’s rather disturbing and can ruin a meal. This round of chorizo did not disappoint and the largest piece found was about the size of a pea.
The next time I attempt this stew, I’ll find a quality chorizo from a better source and see if I have the same issue. The chorizo makes this dish by imparting a wonderful spiciness.
More lentil ideas from other bloggers:
Sweet/Spicy Lentil Sauce with Chicken – What’s cooking?
Sweet Potato, Lentil & Raisin Stew – The Perfect Pantry
Spicy Lentil Soup with Lime – Nami-Nami
Green Lentil and Red Pepper Salad – Kalyn’s Kitchen
Red Lentil Salad with Dried Fruit & Toasted Pine Nuts – EatingWell
On a side note
– a view of the water planes in Coal Harbour (Vancouver, BC) while out walking around this past weekend. Note the wonderfully snowy mountains in the background.
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