Monday, December 8, 2008

Spanish Lentils with Mushrooms, Chorizo, and Thyme-Scented Rice

INGREDIENTS:
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
6 oz. dry hot Spanish chorizo, diced into small cubes
1 onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups brown cap mushrooms, sliced
1 cup lentils of your choice--red, green, yellow or brown, soaked if necessary (small ones won't need it)
1 bay leaf
2 dry star anise pods
1 tbsp. paprika
1 cup white rice
1 tbsp. dried thyme
3 1/2 cups water, divided
Salt and fresh black pepper
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Gouden Carolus Grand Cru of the Emperor

1) Heat 2 tbsp. of the olive oil until shimmering, and add spicy chorizo. Stir to brown, allowing chorizo to release some of its fat.
2) Add the onion, celery, and carrot and sweat for 3-4 minutes.
3) Add garlic, paprika and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are just wilted, about 2 minutes more.
4) Add the lentils, along with the bay leaf, star anise, salt and pepper, and 2 cups of water. Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked. If the water is absorbed into the lentils before they are done, feel free to add more.
5) Meanwhile, heat the remaining tbsp. oil and saute the rice until opaque. Add thyme, salt and 1 1/2 cups of water, bringing to a boil; cover and turn heat to low for 15 minutes.
6) When rice is done and lentils are tender, spoon some rice over the lentils and serve with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.
7) Open Grand Cru of the Emperor.
8) Enjoy together.

THE BEER:
Whoa. This is the thickest bloody strong dark Belgian-style ale we've had in a spell of time. It's very sweet, like figs-and-dates sweet, with a deep mahogany purple color and not much in the way of carbonation. The alcohol, predictably for such a malty brew, is eleven percent, and unfortunately you can taste it in the finish along with a more pleasant hint of pepper. Plenty of raisin and clove here, all dark fruits and pie spices, not the most balanced beer we've ever tasted in our lives, but if you're into the strong Belgians and don't mind ingesting beer with a knife and fork, this Cru is for you.

THE MONSTER:
This is our monster; his name is Grendel. We just figured it was about time he made an appearance on the blog, since he spends a great deal of time in the kitchen, watching us cook from the top of his stepladder. This is his resting position. It's also his please-brush-my-spine position. Grendel has a lot of strong opinions about cooking, particularly when bacon, lunchmeat, or fried chicken are somehow involved.

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