by Jeremy Meadows, Cordata Deli
This hearty lentil stew makes for a perfect dinner on a chilly evening. It comes together easily in one pot and is a real crowd pleaser.
Allow me to introduce you to five of my best friends: sweet, salt, sour, bitter, and umami—aka savory (I’d introduce you to smoky too, but he stepped outside for a puff). Now I’m willing to bet that you are already acquainted with these friends of mine. In fact, I’ll bet that they are hanging around your place right now. By themselves, each can be pretty great. But the very best meals are the ones where the whole gang gets together. And preparing great meals is simply a matter of achieving the proper balance between them. Typically, this is accomplished by serving up multiple courses or side dishes—think of the savory deliciousness of barbecued ribs, slathered in a vinegary sauce, with a side of super sweet corn and some slightly bitter collard greens. But for arguably better results, and a much smaller mess to clean up afterward, I like to do everything in one pot.
the very best meals are the ones where the whole gang gets together
Cooking everything together allows the flavors to mingle and deepen, bringing out the best in one another (as all good friends should) and ensuring complexity in every bite. Ever wonder why Thai curries are so good? It’s because Thai cooks have mastered the art of balancing the five flavors in one incredible dish. Perhaps we can’t all aspire to such greatness, but we can all be good cooks. And one-pot cooking is a great way to start.
One-pot lentil stew is easy, relatively mess free, and allows for creativity. I like the smokiness of chorizo in this recipe, but ground pork or turkey would work well. Too salty? Add some sweetness. Too rich? Add some acidity.
Just remember that in cooking, as in our friendships and other endeavors, seeking the proper balance is key.
Sweet & Savory Chorizo Lentil Stew
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ to ¾ pounds ground Spanish chorizo
- 1 large yellow onion, ½-inch dice
- 4 large carrots, ½-inch dice
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock or water)
- 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
- 1 pound kale or other hardy green, torn into 2-inch pieces
- ½ cup dried cranberries (or raisins, currants, or other dried fruit)
- Large pinch of paprika
- Large pinch of cumin
- 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or rice vinegar
- Heat oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add chorizo and brown all over, breaking it up into bits. Remove with slotted spoon or spatula, leaving the oil in the pot. Drain on paper towels.
- Add onions and carrots and cook, stirring often, until they begin to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and soy sauce, and continue to cook, stirring often, until richly caramelized. If the vegetables become too dry, add a little more oil.
- Add the chicken stock and lentils and bring to a boil, then turn heat to medium low, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, but not mushy (15–20 minutes).
- Add the reserved chorizo, along with the paprika and cumin, and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes to let the flavors meld. If it seems dry, add more liquid.
- Add the kale and cranberries. Cook until kale is wilted and cranberries are plump. Stir in vinegar and enjoy.