Comfort Foods: My version of Spanish Lentil Stew
Ingredients for about 10-12 servings.
3 cups of lentils (peeled, red or mixed) soaked for 8 or 10 hours.
100 grs diced bacon
400 pork ribs.
400 beef meat
1 sweet red bell pepper
1 sweet green pepper
1 big onion
1 glass white wine (sauvignon/chardonnay, etc)
3 rippen tomatoes, diced
1 big carrot grated.
1 large spanish spicy sausage (see example )
About 3/4 lt or more of chicken broth/stock
Fresh (or dry) thyme leaves
Chopped parsley and chopped chive leaves for decoration and fresh touch.
Cooked white rice
Start by placing a pinch of oil in the bottom of a saucepan and fry the pork and beef there, including the bones of the pork chops. Let golden brown, stirring occasionally to be sealed from all sides. If the pan does not have a very large area, perform this operation in two stages so that the meat can brown well. Otherwise, if the meat is tight together and no air circulates between the hubs, it will transpire boil instead of browning. Do not add too much oil from the beginning as the meats, bacon and sausage will release their inner oils.
A crust will form on the bottom of the pan, as a result of chemichal reactions of the enzymes contained in the meat and the caramelization of sugars in the meat during sealing.(This reaction is known as the Maillard reaction in cuisine and it constitutes a great source of flavor for the dish). Once the meat is golden, remove it from the pan and add a little more oil. Sauté there over medium heat the chopped garlic (taking care not to burn it), onion, and peppers. Next, add the wine and let a few seconds so that the alcohol evaporates. This process will deglaze the pan, and the crust that was formed when browning the meat will dissolve in the preparation. Stir with a wooden spoon so that nothing remains stuck at the bottom of the pan.
If you chose not to use wine, dont worry because the acids of the tomatoes will deglaze the pan anyways.
Add broth/stock. Place lentils in and let this cook for about 5 mins. Add then the carrot and diced tomatoes. Add one tbspn of sugar if necessary to soften the acidity of tomatoes.
Let cook covered with a lid, over low flame for 45 mins or one hour stirring ocassionally. 10 minutes before doneness time, add spices and herbs.
Rememeber that if you decide to add spices from the beginning of the cooking process, you can do it but keep in mind that during long cooking liquids will reduce and flavors concentrate. Hence you can end up with a product too salty or spicy. There is always time to add more spices. So it is better to go slowly than to regret.
Serve over hot white rice, sprinkle chive leaves and parsley and enjoy.