Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Drunken Goulash

This is a great recipe for a slow cooker or dutch oven. It's easy to come home and just throw all the ingredients together, letting them simmer while you do other stuff. I've provided a vegetarian recipe, but this dish easily accommodates chicken or beef. All the veggies can be substituted for other things you like (or what you can find in your fridge). Make sure, however, that the thicker, heavier veggies get more cook/simmer time than fragile veggies, like leafy greens, tomatoes, and peppers.

2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 yam or sweet potato, cubed or sliced
3 small finger potatoes, peeled and cubed
10 baby carrots, chopped into fourths
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, cubed
2.5 cups cooked lentils (see below)
1/2 cup red wine
12 oz diced canned tomatoes, drained
Italian parsley for garnish (optional)

Chop all your veggies, and place them into prep bowls: onion and garlic together, potatoes and yam together, carrots, bell pepper and zucchini together. Set aside.

In a braiser, dutch oven, or large saucepan, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and set heat to medium. As the onion and garlic simmer, add paprika and coriander; stir until the onion mixture is red from the paprika, golden from sauteing, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add chopped potatoes and yam, making sure that there is enough oil in the pan (add a drizzle more if all the oil is used up- you don't want veggies sticking to the pot!). Stir ingredients lightly. Next, add carrots, bell pepper, zucchini; stir together. All contents in the pan should be simmering and heating up. Then, slowly stir in wine. All your veggies should be sizzling and immersed in wine. Reduce heat slightly (medium-low). Add canned tomatoes and lentils, stirring until all the contents is evenly mixed. Cover pot and let simmer on low heat for approximately 20 minutes.
Serve topped with Italian parsley bits, your favorite grated cheese, a slice of crust bread, or a side of rice.

Lentils Preparation
Make a bundle of lentils that can be used later for lentil loaf, an ingredient in a salad, or a quick healthy.
I cheat sometimes and buy ready-to-use cooked lentils in the produce section of Trader Joe's. I think Whole Foods also carries some ready-cooked lentils, too. It's a huge timesaver for weeknight dinners.

  1. Spread lentils out in a single layer on a white kitchen towel or a light colored work surface. Check for and discard any dirt, tiny stones, and damage lentils.
  2. After checking through the lentils, place them in a strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water.
  3. They are ready to cook after rinsing. The lentils do not require soaking before cooking.
Lentil Cooking
Lentils must not be overcooked or they will become soft and mushy. Different varieties require different cooking times.
  1. Use 1 1/2 cups of water or broth to 1 cup of lentils.
  2. Add water or broth to a saucepan and if desired add flavorings, such as herbs, garlic, and onions. Do not add salt until the lentils are cook because the salt will toughen them if added at the beginning of the cooking time.
  3. Bring water or broth to a boil and add the lentils. Boil for 2 or 3 minutes and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until tender. Cook green and brown lentils for approximately 45 minutes and red lentils for 25 minutes.
    Doneness Notes:
    • Be sure to start taste testing the lentils for desired tenderness 10 to 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Do not overcook or they will become mushy.
    • If adding lentils to a salad or if you desire a firmer textured lentil in your soup or stew, only cook them until they have a tender but firm texture.
    • If cooking to use in a puree, cook until soft.
    • Cooking times will also vary depending on the age of the lentils, which affects their moisture content.
When using packaged lentils, be sure to check for tenderness before the end of the suggested cooking time. Most suggested cooking times are longer than necessary and could cause the lentils to become mushy.

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