Lentil Soup with Plantains

Plantain Lentil Soup

Photo: Lisa Romerein

Lentils, like other beans, are a good vehicle for the kind of strong flavorings we love. When cooking any bean soup, occasionally give it a stir to avoid burning the beans on the bottom.

Serves 8 to 10

2 large onions
11 cloves of garlic
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1 bunch fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried
1 gallon vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
3 cups lentils, washed and picked over
6 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter
2 ripe plantains, peeled, cut in half, and diced
3 medium carrots, peeled, cut into quarters lengthwise, and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 bunches cilantro, chopped

Cut 1 onion into chunks and the other into dice. Mince 6 of the garlic cloves and keep the remaining 5 whole.

Place the onion chunks, whole garlic cloves, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in the center of a medium square of cheesecloth. Tie the ends together to form a package. Place the fresh thyme in another square of cheesecloth and tie the ends together to enclose.

Combine the stock and the spice and herb packages, or dried thyme, in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 30 minutes. Stir in the lentils and continue cooking until they are cooked through but still firm, 15 minutes. Strain the lentils, reserving the liquid and the thyme bundle.

Heat the olive oil or butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the diced onions until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add the plantains, carrots, and salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the plantains are soft and golden, 15 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and allspice and cook about 5 minutes longer, being careful not to scorch the garlic.

Add the lentils, their reserved liquid, and the thyme bundle. Bring to a simmer and cook another 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, and remove and discard the thyme bundle. Stir in half of the chopped cilantro. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the remaining chopped cilantro.


Roasted Onion and Chestnut Compote

Roasted Onion Chestnut Compote

Photo: Ariana Lindquist

Sweet onions with cream and bacon are irresistible, especially with a holiday dinner of turkey or roast beef. You can make this dish the day before.

Serves 6

1 3/4 pounds small white and red onions, with skins
1 pound fresh chestnuts scored, soaked in water for 1 hour, then roasted over fire, peeled and cut into quarters
1/2 pound thickly sliced bacon
1/2 cup brandy
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange onions in an even layer in a large baking sheet. Bake, shaking pan occasionally to ensure even roasting, about 40 minutes. The largest onion should feel soft when pressed. Set aside to cool. Trim ends and peel.

Slice bacon across width into 1/4-inch pieces. Fry until crisp in a large skillet. Drain off fat, leaving bacon in pan. Remove from heat. Pour in brandy, turn heat to high and light alcohol with a match. When flame subsides, add cream, chestnuts, reserved onions, and pepper. Cook until cream is reduced by half. Serve immediately.


Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Sweet Sour Cabbage

Photo: Ariana Lindquist

Although this Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage can be eaten hot or cold, the flavor of this sweet and sour accompaniment benefits from a few days in the refrigerator. You can use the Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage to garnish almost anything: sandwiches, smoked fish, salads, brisket, pork, or event liver. It’s especially delicious on a day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich on toasted bread with mayonnaise, turkey, and lettuce.

Serves 10 to 12

1 large red head cabbage
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup rendered duck fat*, preferably, or bacon fat or pork fat

Cut cabbage in quarters, core, and finely julienne. Combine all ingredients, except the fat, in a large bowl. Stir to blend.

Heat fat in a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add cabbage mixture and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender, about 1 hour. Serve hot or cold. Sweet and sour cabbage may be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days and may also be reheated.

* To render fat, boil at a slow simmer until the solids settle to the bottom and water evaporates. The remaining clear liquid can be stored in the refrigerator and used for sauteeing.


Spicy Cornbread Stuffing

spicy cornbread stuffing

Photo: Helen Rosner

This is a variation on traditional cornbread stuffing for pork lovers. When we’re feeling decadent and want to make this Spicy Cornbread Stuffing even richer we like to add browned sausage.

Serves 6

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
4 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
3 1/2 cups cornbread, diced and toasted

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 2 quart baking dish and set aside.

Fry the bacon until crisp in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan.

Place the pan over medium heat and sauté the onion 3 to 5 minutes, until transparent. Add the celery and jalapeños and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the stock, the crisp bacon, and parsley. Stir to combine and remove from heat.

Place the cornbread in a large bowl. Pour the chicken stock mixture over the cornbread and toss well to combine.

Transfer to prepared baking dish and bake until top is crisp and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

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