"Yes, that outfit does look really as bad as you think it does."
"Gee, ice storms sure are fun."
"Oh, yeah, winter is coming." (At least not if you live North of the 42 parallel...)
"Those lentils sure look pretty" (said no one, ever).
Fortunately, it doesn't always have to be about the looks.
Lentils are a more recent (i.e. as in the past decade) addition to my diet. Up until some time in my thirties, I associated lentils with tree-bark and communal living. They also brought to mind split pea soup (I am not a fan). I certainly never thought of them as "French".
At some point, I finally learned to disassociate them from both tree bark and split peas and realized they made a pretty good addition to the diet (leftover lentils make some pretty tasty cookies).
In Around My French Table, Dorie Greenspan serves up a simple but flavorful version starring the queen of the lentil family (Lentils du Puy). In Dorie's version, lentils are cooked in chicken stock with aromatics and spices.
So, how does one make a simple recipe even simpler? Throw it in the rice cooker.
I love my rice cooker. It is one of those things that may seem like a single purpose item, but with a little creativity it can be so much more (it's great for cooking all sorts of grains and even legumes - one pot meals are possible if you use the steaming basket on top while the rice cooks).
Yes, I know you can make it on the stove and blah, blah, blah; but the rice cooker makes it so much easier. Surely, I can't be the only one who has had to clean dried up starchy water residue from the top of their stove as a result of rice boil over?
The rice cooker stays...
French Lentils - a la Cher
Adapted from Around My French Table
Note: each rice cooker is a little different. The proportions I offer work for mine - different ones may work for yours. Read the manufacturers instructions if in doubt...
1 cup French green lentils (du Puy, if you can get them)
2 3/4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable)
1 medium size shallot
1 small cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium carrot cut into 1/4" dice
1/2 Tbs kosher salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
1 Tbs Cognac
Stick the clove into the end of the shallot. Place all ingredients into the pot of the rice cooker. Stir to combine. With the pot in cooker, close the lid and operate according to manufacturers instructions. (For my rice cooker, I used the "White Rice" setting). Once cooker has run through its cycle, remove the pot from the cooker (carefully - potholders recommended). Remove the clove, cinnamon and bay leaf. Transfer to a serving dish. Enjoy.
Leftovers heat up well in the microwave. Just add a little bit of stock or water and reheat until warmed through.
P.S. Tuna and Mango ceviche (or whatever version I decide to make of it will come soon). We spent last weekend in NYC for my birthday and I haven't seen the inside of my house before 7:30 PM in more days than I care to remember. Hopefully, cooking activities will resume this weekend (unless pouring milk on cereal counts as a "cooking activity").
This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie.