Monday, September 23, 2013

Chicken and Lentils in the Crock Pot

Here's another easy crock pot recipe. I adapted it from this recipe, changing things up a bit to make things easier, because I'm really lazy.
  • About 1.5 pounds of chicken. I think we had closer to 1.7. Go as cheap as you can stand. Any meat ends up moist and delicious after 8+ hours in the crock pot. I think we used Aldi chicken breast tenders. Good meat, but you end up spending some time cutting out some veins.
  • About 8 ounces (half a bag) of brown lentils.
  • Some garlic. I used only 2-3 cloves, because I'm not a huge fan of super-garlicky flavor.
  • Chicken broth. We ended up using nearly four cups, instead of the original recipe's two cups, otherwise we couldn't cover the lentils properly. That was fine; the lentils suck up the broth like a sponge, this won't be too soupy.
  • An onion.
  • Spices: Paprika, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin and coriander. A little salt and pepper can't hurt, either. I used smoked paprika because that's all we had, and it worked fine.
Prep was very easy.

First, peel the gross parts off of the onion, then slice it up into small pieces. I ended up using about two thirds of it; I was a little worried that if I used the whole thing, this would taste like nothing but onions. Line the bottom of the crock pot with the onion bits. Dice the garlic and throw it on top of that.

The Food.com recipe says put the chicken down next, then put the lentils on top. But don't do that -- that almost sank us. There wasn't enough broth to cover the lentils and that's why we ended up adding so much more broth.

Put down some spices (2 teaspoons paprika, a teaspoon each of cinnamon, turmeric, cumin and coriander).

Clean the lentils. To clean them, rinse them in a strainer. Eyeball them to look for any stones or dirt or gross ones, and pull them out. Mine were fine, there was nothing to pull out. Add the lentils to the crock pot.

Clean and cut up the chicken however you want. I cut it up into big chunks, so it could move around easily when I stirred the mixture later. Throw the chicken in on top of the lentils.

Add some more spices on top of the chicken -- exactly the same amount as before (2 teaspoons paprika, a teaspoon each of cinnamon, turmeric, cumin and coriander). This is about double what the Food.com recipe suggests. Other readers suggested that you do this, to make the dish less bland. It really helps.

Add in your chicken broth. Are you adding two cups, or four cups? Up to you, but make sure the lentils are well covered and that the chicken's at least a bit into the broth. Me, I'd probably cover it all with broth.

Close up the crock put, put the thing on low, and let it cook for 8-10 hours. After seven hours, we were a little worried that the lentils were underdone (because we put them on top, instead of under the chicken), so I put it up to high for the last couple of hours. I stirred it every few hours, then toward the end we'd taste a lentil or two to see how soft the lentils were.

That's all there is to it. We served ours over white rice, cooked in the rice cooker with broth instead of water. It was delicious, and it served four people amply. It could have probably served five. And this turned out to be much easier than the original recipe -- no need to brown the chicken ahead of time or use corn starch.

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