Chicken with lentils

6:40 pm:
That’s right, it’s time for another adventure in cooking. This week I’m trying a recipe entitled Chicken and Lentils. Mostly because I got a really good deal on chicken drumsticks ($3.30 for 10) and had some lentils that I had no idea what to do with.

Now, already going into this, I had a concern: I’m using red lentils instead of brown lentils, which I know have a faster cooking time, but I have no idea how much. So for the end part of step 2, I reduced the time down from 20 minutes to 10 minutes.

I’ve been cooking for about an hour now. Right near the beginning, I encountered a problem: I have no idea how to tell when the juices are “running clear” on the chicken until I take them out of the pan and into a plate. So as my onion, carrot, garlic, and lentils were happily simmering away, I looked over at my plate of drumsticks and realized, despite cooking them 5 minutes on both sides, that the juices were *not* clear.

What’s a girl to do? Too late to put them back in the pan for a few minutes, but I don’t want Marc to die of salmonella (or me, for that matter). So I came up with what I thought was an eminently reasonable solution: take out a pot (I don’t have any more pans), put some olive oil in the bottom, heat it up, and put the chicken in for another few minutes.

Now, I don’t know what the difference was the second time compared to the first time, but there was a difference. Oh, yes, precious, there was a difference. After only two minutes, everything was absolutely stuck to the bottom and it took quite a bit of work to get it out of the pot so I could transfer it back into the pan. (And, wow, does that pot need to soak before I start cleaning it.)

I have no idea, meanwhile, whether I’ve actually gotten the chicken to the “juices running clear” stage yet. Oh, and I managed to get some something-or-other on the burner, so the kitchen got smoky for a while. At least the smoke alarm didn’t go off.

Anyway, I’m now about 15 minutes into step 3. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get my asparagus ready for roasting. (Did I mention I’m making a side of roasted asparagus? More on that later, I’m sure.) I’ll put that into the oven right around the time I’m starting step 4, so in about 5 minutes. Bye for now!

6:55 pm:
Two revelations:
1. Stirring tomato sauce into a pan already full of lentils and chicken is more difficult than it might initially appear.
2. Ovens preheat better when you turn them on. (In my defence, I set the temperature. I just hadn’t realize I also needed to set it to “bake.”)

Also, the lentils are already mighty tender. This might be more thick and homogenous than I’d originally planned.

Sigh.

6:58 pm:
Just realized now I wasn’t supposed to put the lemon juice in until the end. Oh, well. Too late now. At least the oven is heating up relatively quickly.

7:08 pm:
Just turned off the element for the chicken-lentil stew (which is essentially what it looks like now). Like I thought, the lentils are more of a thickener at this point than actual visible lentils, but so be it. It’s tasty, anyway.

Asparagus just went into the oven. (It works *so* much better when it’s turned on.) That’ll come out in about 10 minutes, I think. Marc’s still not home yet, so at least he’s not waiting on me.

Did I mention I started cooking all of this around 5:45 and haven’t left the kitchen since? Yeah, I’m not going to make this again. I don’t care how tasty it is.

7:24:
I hereby declare the asparagus done. Marc isn’t home yet. I turned off the oven, then put the asparagus (on a plate) and chicken-lentil stew into the oven to let them stay warm as the oven cools down. Hopefully this won’t come back to bite me. (It might, on the other hand, make the pan and plate very hot to handle. I should find out if I have any trivets.)

Y’know, I almost never drink, but I could so go for a glass of wine right now.

Final verdict after dinner.

7:35 pm:
Logistical update: The reason Marc hasn’t been home for the last hour and a half or so is that he’s running errands for a friend’s party. I just called to find out whether Marc was on his way back yet, only to find out that he hasn’t actually *reached* the friend’s place yet. That means it’ll be at least a half-hour, maybe an hour, maybe longer, before I sit down to eat.

Where’d I put that wine…?

8:15 pm:
Still no Marc. The oven’s pretty much cooled off, so I turned it on to the lowest setting for 3-5 minutes, just so that everything will stay warm. (The asparagus was pretty cool when I just nibbled on a stalk, I must say.) Again, hopefully this won’t come back to bite me.

Marc got home around 8:30 and we dug in. Final verdict: very, very tasty. So at least this particular adventure had a happy ending. Note to self: if I ever make this again, remove the skins before cooking. On the other hand, I really don’t think I’m going to make this again. In my book, there is no meal so tasty that it justifies an hour and a half standing in the kitchen.

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