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Hearty, Yet Healthy One Pot Meal for 2014: Chicken with Green Lentils

It's a new year with new resolutions.  To eat right.  To save money.  To enjoy the simple things.  This Chicken with green lentils aims to satisfy all three of these resolutions in one, one-pot meal.  Or at least that was the goal.

If you haven't figured out that I am a fan of chicken thighs, you haven't been reading this blog a whole lot.  The thing about thighs is that they have enough fat to enjoy slower cooking like in this dish, have great flavor and you just can't beat the price.  And oh, sometimes my kids will eat them. Although not Wednesday night and not last night when I attempted to serve them the leftovers.  Sigh.

Lentils are one of those ingredients that, to me, satisfy that winter, heartier food craving, but provide a good nutritional value without a ton of calories and fat.  Packed with fiber, folate, magnesium and iron, lentils are quite the healthy powerhouse of a legume.  I love them even if they do have some carbs (but no gluten!).

Yet, I had trouble finding a lentil and chicken thigh recipe that I actually liked and was relatively easy to make this past week.  I scoured cookbooks and the web and nothing was very appealing.... so I made this one up, thus accomplishing the fourth resolution, retrieve creativity from the depths of my soul.  I had to go pretty deep, but I found something.  Nothing remarkable, but something.

While it takes a while to simmer, it doesn't take too long to prep.  It's easy to get going and then enjoy a little wine and nice conversation (or perhaps a the movie "Planes" for the 14th time since Christmas).

Of course, I did a terrible job of following my fifth resolution, use fewer ingredients.  But when you are making one pot meals like this, they just scream for spices from your rack (or, for me, very disorganized spice shelves).  I will admit that I may be more well stocked than others.  All of the ingredients except the chicken thighs could be found in my spice rack, the bowels of my pantry or the bottom of my vegetable drawer (this was a great use for leftover crudite from the holidays).  So this recipe to me was an excuse to clean the refrigerator and pantry ;)

One last thing.  Because skin translates to extra fat in this dish I omitted it in this version (it being the first of the year after all).  But I will confess that I made this twice to tweak this recipe.  The first time I made it with skin on, bones in thighs.  It's a little better that way, and you can peel off the skins if you don't want the extra fat, although it oozes into the dish anyways, infusing flavor, if you know what I mean.

If you are serving this to guests on a Sunday , go for the skin on so everyone will get their own thigh.  If this is a Sunday night supper that gets used as leftovers for the week -- make it with the boneless variety and then you can shred it through the dish.  Bottom line, if you don't need the skin, you will be better off in 2014 without it.

Happy New Year.

Chicken with Green Lentils
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 
Total time: 1 hour 20 mins
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/4 to 1/12 lbs chicken thighs (preferably boneless and skinless)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1 cup of green lentils
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can tomatoes (14.5 oz)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat oil on medium high heat in small dutch oven or large covered pan. Salt and pepper chicken thighs and brown for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan.
  2. Add carrots, celery and onion to pan, adding more oil if needed. Saute for 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes more.
  3. Add wine to dish to deglaze the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and stir until most of the wine evaporates.
  4. Add coriander, paprika, cumin, chili powder and cayenne and stir to coat the vegetables.
  5. Add lentils, broth, tomatoes and bring to simmer. Return chicken to pan. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour.
Julie du Pont is a Darien resident, mom and lawyer.  She blogs about food and entertaining at weekendtable.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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