I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really like Anne Burrell’s show on Food Network. I Tivo it and watch it each week, and more than other current Food Network show it inspires me to cook. I’ve made her deviled eggs, I’ve made her chicken liver mousse (which didn’t come out too well, so I don’t think I posted about it) and–this weekend–after seeing her serve grilled salmon on a bed of stewed lentils, I decided to get off my couch and recreate the picture on the screen (minus the salmon). The best part is I didn’t even have to go food shopping to do it.
Admittedly, I don’t always have lentils, onions, carrots, celery and bacon on hand—but it just so happened that on this day I did.
To make Anne Burrell’s lentils, you begin with dried lentils. Anne uses French green lentils, which I don’t have; so I just used regular old brown lentils. I’m sure if you use green lentils it’ll be that much better.
I put about 1.5 cups dried lentils into a pot, covered it by two inches with cold water, and then added half an onion, a piece of celery cut in half, a carrot broken in half, and two smashed garlic cloves. No salt yet! (That’ll make the lentils tough, dude.)
Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and simmer for about 15 minutes until the lentils are just cooked through. Taste, taste, taste. It’s the only way to know.
When they’re cooked through, add a big handful of salt (well, maybe not a handful: just enough to season those lentils—taste as you add!) When the lentils taste good and just salty enough, turn off the heat, extract the carrot, the onion, the celery and the garlic and let the lentils sit.
While they’re sitting, cut up half-a-cup’s worth each of a red onion, a carrot and celery. You can play with the proportions: I erred on the side of lots of “veg” as Anne herself would say.
Now’s the part where this all gets sexy. Take FIVE PIECES OF BACON (yes, all caps) and cut them into what the French call lardons. Put them in a cold skillet with a splash of olive oil. Slowly raise the heat and cook the bacon for several minutes until crispy. Then add all your veg and toss around:
Sprinkle with a drop of salt (depending on how salty your bacon is), toss around, and then chop up a clove or two of garlic (depending on how much garlic you like). Add the garlic, toss again, and then drain your lentils (reserving some liquid). Add the drained lentils to the pan, toss once more, and if it’s too dry add some lentil cooking liquid. Here’s the crazy part: once everything’s heated through? Anne adds two secret ingredients that really make these lentils special: 3 Tbs of mustard and a splash of red wine vinegar. You’ll be shocked by how much flavor those last two ingredients add.
So there you have it: something most people don’t get that excited about (lentils) turned into something you’re very, very excited about. And why shouldn’t you be? Lentils with bacon, mustard and red wine vinegar? Thanks, Anne Burrell, for giving lentils a good name.