Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Orange-Rose Chili with Lentils: Chile Rosado con Lentejas

Cooking for my wife's Monday lunchtime church staff meeting, a group that agreed to be guinea pigs, has led to developing a number of dishes. Several constraints shape what turns up. The logistics favor reheatable one-pot stews, curries, and chilis that are prepared ahead, plus rice or other grains served hot from the rice cooker. I also need to avoid cooking with nuts and seeds.

Here's a chili I developed for the group's next meeting. I aimed for a pink-colored chili but wound up with an orange-pink color. Since I worked with lentils this time, one of my favorite legumes, the dish was quicker to prepare from scratch than a chili with beans.

While I haven't yet tried this with a beverage, like most chili dishes it presumably does well with beer or medium-bodied red wines.

The recipe serves 4 to 6. Make a double batch to have leftovers, which are even richer flavored.

Orange-Rose Chili with Lentils -- Chile Rosado con Lentejas

3/4 pound (1-3/4 cups) dry tan/green lentils
1 medium onion, coarsely diced
1 pound ground beef, not too lean
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 of a (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 medium-large red bell pepper, finely diced
2 teaspoons salt, plus to taste
1/2 cup canned evaporated (not sweetened) milk
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, including part of stems, plus more for garnish

Place lentils in large bowl and add boiling water to cover by 3 inches. Soak at least 20 minutes.

In heavy pan over medium-high heat, fry onion and beef together, breaking up the meat. (If beef is very lean, add a little olive oil.) When beef has fully changed color, reduce heat, add garlic, and fry 5 minutes.

Drain lentils, and add to pot. Add water plus spices and herbs, but not salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered but stirring occasionally, until lentils are becoming tender (10-20 minutes). Add a little water as needed, keeping the mixture reasonably thick.

Add bell pepper plus salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until pepper is tender. Taste, and add salt if needed.

Stir in evaporated milk and cilantro. Bring just back to a simmer and remove from heat.

Serve now, or refrigerate and reheat later (check salt). Sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Accompany with rice.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim - everything you make for our staff is delicious, but as George and I love lentils and I loved this one, I am going to try to copy. Thank you for keeping us so well fed! - Babs

4:31 PM  

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