A hearty meal great for a wintery night. For a vegetarian version, omit the chicken & bacon (obviously) use vegetable broth, and add some toasted pecans and/or fried shallots. It’s still really tasty.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large leek, split, washed and thinly sliced
- 1 large celery stalk, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 red capsicum (sweet red pepper), seeded, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ cups lentils such as Le Puy, brown or green
- 2½ to 3 cups chicken broth, divided
- 1 large sprig of fresh thyme, or ½ tsp dried
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- finely grated zest of ½ lemon
- 6 thickly sliced bacon rashers (or turkey bacon for non-pork people)
- 6 skinless boneless chicken breasts or 12 skinless boneless thighs or mixture of both
- 6 cups lightly packed baby spinach or arugula or mixture of both
- Squeeze of lemon juice
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add leek, carrot, celery, capsicum and garlic; cook 5 minutes, uncovered and stirring often.
Meanwhile, inspect lentils for any small rocks; rinse in a sieve under cold running water. Set aside while vegetables are continuing to cook.
Then add the drained lentils, 2½ cups broth, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Stir, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Continue cooking, uncovered, for 15 minutes if there is still a lot of liquid, or until lentils are tender but not mushy. Cooking times vary depending on type and age of lentils. Then stir in parsley and lemon zest; keep warm while cooking the chicken. (If making ahead, cool, cover and refrigerate lentils for up to a day. Reheat until hot.)
When lentils are almost done, cook bacon in a large frying pan over medium-low to medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until crispy. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Leave about 1 tbsp of grease in pan, discarding remainder.
Meanwhile, give chicken a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. When bacon comes out of pan, adjust heat to medium. Add chicken, skin-side/smooth-side down. Sauté 8 – 10 minutes, depending on thickness, per side or until golden and cooked through; remove from pan. Deglaze pan with remaining ½ cup broth.
Line warmed plates with spinach; top with some of the lentil mixture and some lemon juice. Place chicken on lentils; deglazed liquid; crumble bacon overtop. Garnish with additional chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread.
Serves 4 – 6
Adapted (slightly) from Food & Drink, Holiday 2012