WINE WITH…Compromise Lentils and Bacon
One of us was promoting the idea of a meat-free dish, the other thought that lentils on their own sounded boring--which is how this compromise recipe for lentils accented by bacon was born. This is a robust dish, with deep, complex flavors thanks to a generous period of stewing the lentils and bacon in red wine along with tomatoes and a hefty dose of garlic and spice.
Since red lentils quickly lose their shape, for dishes such as this one that call for a long stewing time to cement the flavors together, green or brown lentils are the best choice.
Compromise Lentils and Bacon
4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more for serving if desired)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
One 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (or use fresh tomatoes)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper (or substitute Ancho chili powder or red pepper flakes to taste)
8 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
2 cups brown or green lentils
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring frequently. When the fat is mostly rendered and the bacon is beginning to crisp up, add the olive oil, onions, carrots and garlic. Stir the mixture for a few minutes then add the thyme, bay leaves and broth. Rinse the lentils and add them to the pot along with a little salt. Simmer the mixture, covered, for about 20 minutes, adding more water if needed to keep the lentils moist.
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This dish works best with red wines, even quite full-bodied ones, but a juicy, full-fleshed white will work well too. That surprised us, as few dishes pair successfully with Petite Sirah, Pinotage, and…Chardonnay. This one, however, does.