Puy Lentils with Chicken with Garlic and White Wine and Sage Fricasee.

Went to Kitchen Essentials in Subiaco today, it seems to cater for people who find things not quite expensive enough at other stores.

I think it was in the short lived but brilliant satirical magazine Might. They noted that consumption for the nineties differed from the eighties in that all consumption would be ostensibly humble but essentially extravagant. A $2000 bike, a $5 coffee, and a $7 loaf of bread. And so it comes to Perth and I bought a 500gm packet of puy lentils for $6.50.

To put this in perspective, a ton of wheat works out to about 15c for the same amount. On the other hand, puy lentils are hard to find and have the quality of not turning to mush after being cooked. The could be called the Rolls Royce of pulses but let’s keep in mind we are still talking lentils here

Anyway, bought they were and then I had to work out what to do with them. I had a bad case of the illusory choices. This is where I have a clear idea of hundreds of options which promptly disappear when I try to access them. This has often occurred at a video store, and if I remember correctly, every time I made the transition to singledom. I could have sworn there were hundreds of recipes for them in my cookbooks and I found about 7. Most for lentil salad – joy.

Time considerations led me to compromise so I modified a very simple recipe from The Cordon Bleue at Home that I’d be meaning to try. The most counter-intuitive thing is the amount of garlic needed. It seems a lot but from experience with a Chinese beef dish, slow cooking mellows things considerably. I also substituted chicken breasts for chicken pieces which cause problems later. The lentils would be experimentally integrated into the dish.

All I needed

2 free range chicken breasts, 2 whole heads of organic garlic – separated but not peeled, 1tbs olive oil, small bunch of sage -finely chopped*, glass of white wine, salt and pepper

Season the chicken and heat a casserole dish to a high heat on a burner with the olive oil. Brown the chicken breasts, then add the garlic cloves – reducing the heat. Stir the cloves for 5-7 minutes – softening but not browning. Season again, add the sage, and stir in the wine. Bring to a boil and put in a 190C oven uncovered for 25 minutes stirring occasionally.

Put the lid on and cook for another 15 minutes.

After this, keep the chicken warm, and run the liquids and garlic through a fine sieve, working the garlic through. This will become the sauce.

Lentils

This was where the recipe diverged. I was going to cook the lentils in the dish but the requirement of straining, led me to try something else. The lentils were actually called French Green Lentils, but I was promised they were 99% the same as puy. Is this a “Sparkling White” thing?

Put a cup of lentils in plenty of boiling water, let simmer for 12 minutes, and drain.

Now,return the lentils to the saucepan and add the strained sauce. Let them cook together for about five minutes and pour over each chicken breast. Serve.

And?

Well we learn. The lentils were enjoyable the texture made me feel less like an invalid but they’re a pleasure that craves company. The garlic didn’t overwhelm, just subtle notes. The chicken, unfortunately, was dry and this shouldn’t have surprised me. The meat is lean, there were no bones or fat, and the largish casserole dish and my drinking needs meant they were awkwardly half poached, half steamed. A reduction in the cooking time would have helped and this may be time to time to buy that larding needle I’ve always wanted.

Were the lentils worth it? Well if you’ve aspired to a better lentil, then this is an opportunity to realise your dreams more cheaply than many others.

* I’ve learnt having dry (not dried) herbs assists in finer work as the bits don’t stick together – a quick shake over a burner after rinsing helps, though some could feasibly argue that it destroys the delicate taste but well…

3 comments

  1. Kate’s avatar

    Apparently it is a sparkling wine thing; the lentils hail from the de puy area of France and the locals chucked up a stink about the name being appropriated by lentils from foreign lands.
    Good site, BTW!

  2. Anthony’s avatar

    Thanks Kate. Puzzle solved but it’s a shame we have to end up with such literal translations though.

  3. Anonymous’s avatar

    you can get puy lentils cheap in Perth from Kakulus brothers in Northbridge, Kakulus sister in Freo or cheaper still from the carpark markets in Subi (about $2/kilo)

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