Chicken and Braised Lentils

Posted By Kerri

chicken_with_lentils

Today marks the first day of our new, healthier eating plan. To ease the pain, we spent some time with our cookery books over the weekend and came up with some interesting, low-fat options.

Stephen bought me Skye Gingell’s “A Year in my Kitchen” for Christmas, a book that’s been on my wishlist for a while. The braised lentil dish is one that stood out on the first read; I really like puy lentils but don’t use them very often because I’m never really sure what to do with them. The lentils, combined with the simple chicken (the healthy-eater’s favourite) seemed like a winner for our first day and, conveniently, we had everything we needed….or so we thought.

The lentils were easy to cook but took longer than the recipe stated. I’m not sure whether it was purposefully or not but there was no instruction to season the lentils while cooking. I’m glad I checked because, despite the other ingredients (garlic, ginger, chilli, parsley, coriander root, onion, carrot, bay leaves), after 20 minutes of cooking there was very little flavour happening.

The next step was to add soy sauce, sherry vinegar and sesame oil. I did so and then left the lentils to soak up the flavours while we cooked the chicken. These added ingredients certainly helped to impart some much-needed flavour but I wasn’t entirely sure about the combination. The sherry vinegar added warmth but the soy sauce and sesame oil seemed harsh against the other, very subtle flavours.

At this point it all went a bit wrong. The idea behind the lentil dish is that it’s a “toolbox” recipe, something you have in your fridge and can use with other ingredients…like the chicken. We were supposed to add some chicken stock to the lentils but forgot. We were also supposed to use other “toolbox” dishes to compliment the chicken and lentils but we didn’t. They were oven-dried tomatoes (I realised too late that I didn’t have any tomatoes and it was raining), basil oil and garlic aioli. We’d already decided to skip the oil and aioli in order to maximise the healthiness which, in retrospect, was probably a mistake. We did re-hydrate some sundried tomatoes and used those instead which worked OK but I can see how the oven-dried tomatoes would have improved the dish; the chicken stock would have made the dish less dry too.

So, all in all, not a great start to the plan. This does have potential though and we may re-visit it at some point, taking care to remember the stock and the tomatoes.

Jan 12th, 2009

10 Comments to 'Chicken and Braised Lentils'

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  1. Stephen said,

    I rather liked the lentils and kept stealing quick spoonfuls of it while we were waiting for the chicken to finish cooking. In little spoonfuls it was good, but to have a whole plate of it made it seem rather dry – the chicken stock would obviously have helped that and the picture in her book does look a bit soupier than what we had.

    The chicken was started on the hob in a frying pan, then put into the oven to finish cooking. This gave really crispy skin, almost as if we’d been cooking a duck breast. I did forget to season the chicken before cooking. So it was tasty but could have been better.

    At least the picture turned out nicely, if a little off-centre :-)

  2. Mrs Ergül said,

    The picture sure looks great! And I’m sorry for the way it turned out. I’m sure the next time will be better!

    Mrs Ergül’s last blog post..Citrus Almond Salad

  3. Antonia said,

    Great picture! How do you manage to shoot from above with barely a shadow?
    Sorry it didn’t turn out as you hoped. My problem with lentils is getting the flavour in and preventing dryness so I’m pleased to hear that I’m not the only one. The chicken looks superb though – crispy on the outside and juicy within.

    Antonia’s last blog post..Baked rhubarb sponge

  4. Stephen said,

    Thanks Antonia! We had the light on one side and a reflector on the other side to soften the shadows. We often use a reflector, but this time it was right against the edge of the plate, just out of the picture, so the effect was stronger than usual.

  5. Lizzie said,

    I’ve never cooked Puy lentils but I love them – I had a dish at the weekend with pork belly and the lentils were spiced with cumin which worked well – it also had a thin gravy which helped. Maybe deglazing the pan from the chicken with a little wine would help to make it a bit more moist?

    Lizzie’s last blog post..Keema Curry

  6. Helen said,

    I have that Skye book but haven’t cooked very much from it because of the ‘toolbox’ issue! Her second book is a lot more user friendly and I’ve cooked quite a few dishes with success!

  7. Kerri said,

    Good idea about deglazing the pan Lizzie, the chicken was actually really moist but the overall dish was a little dry.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one struggling with Skye Helen, everything else I’ve read seems to suggest that her recipes are brilliant and I was worried I was missing something.

  8. That is such a great combo, it’s a shame you are being so well behaved without the fat because lentils love duck fat… and if you were feeling particularly gluttonous, it would hurt to put a whole pig foot into your lentils to impart some lovely gelatin from inside all the squidgy tendony bits.

    Pierre Lamielle’s last blog post..Nipply gnudist

  9. The New Year brings to me a newfound craving for lentils. This dish looks fantastic!

    [eatingclub] vancouver || js’s last blog post..Cantonese Braised Beef Brisket, Two Ways

  10. Kerri said,

    Thank you :)

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