Alton Brown is my hero.
He’s the only TV food guy who not only shows me “how”, but teaches me “why”. He explores the science of cooking; but in a way that doesn’t put me to sleep, or make me feel dumb. I can’t emphasize enough how very much I respect his knowledge—If Alton says it, it must be so.
So when he suggested I get to know lentils, that’s just what I did. Lentils are tasty, nutritious, and unlike other dried beans, can be prepared start to finish in less than an hour.
I picked up a bag at Harris Teeter for $2.29, and set to work. What I came up with turned out pretty tasty.
Stove-top lentil and wild rice pilaf
1 cup uncooked lentils
2 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
Put everything into heavy saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce to medium-low and simmer, uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until tender. If while cooking, the liquid level drops, add a bit more water.
Strain, reserving cooking liquid.
Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a drizzle of olive oil to cooked lentils. Set aside.
3/4 cup uncooked wild rice
1 teaspoon salt
Reserved lentil cooking liquid, with bay and garlic
Put rice, liquid, and salt into same saucepan used for lentils. Add water to bring level 1 1/2 inches above rice.
Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Cover and cook 45-60 minutes, or until tender, but not mushy.
Drain and fold into lentils. Set aside.
1/3 cup dried mushrooms
1 bay leaf
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3/4 cup uncooked white rice
1 teaspoon duck fat, bacon fat, or butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup liquid from mushrooms, or another stock of your choice
Put mushrooms into saucepan with about 3 cups water, bay leaf, and big pinch of salt. Bring to boil, turn down, and let boil 5 minutes. Drain, using a fine mesh sieve to stop any dirt from going into mushroom stock. Reserve the stock and bay for cooking rice.
Heat skillet and add duck fat and oil. Add onions and mushrooms, season with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary.
Sauté until all the liquid from the veggies has released and cooked off, onions are golden, and mushrooms are browned.
Add rice and sauté until it just starts to brown and smells a little nutty.
Deglaze pan with wine, and let totally evaporate.
Pour in stock (with bay leaf) and bring to boil. Lower to medium-low, cover and cook until liquid’s cooked in (15-25 minutes). At that point, uncover and cover with the lentils and wild rice.
Recover and let sit for 10 minutes.
3/4 cup grated dry cheese, like Parmesan or Manchego
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Fold into rice and serve. Serves 6-8, depending on whether it’s eaten as a side or main dish.
They say that you shouldn’t meet your heroes. It’s probably best that I don’t meet Alton. Because I have a feeling that if I did, I’d turn into a big, fat stammering, stalker-y mess. And I’d like his autograph, but not on a restraining order.
Thanks for your time.