Today I bring you another Argentine recipe. This is possibly the quintessential winter meal over here. It’s fairly simple, but very hearty and oh so good. Let me introduce you to… the lentil stew.
Let me warn you, though, this is the way I make it. Or should I say the way I’ve been making it? Since I’ve only made about 3 times so far. You know I didn’t do a lot of cooking pre-college, and especially, pre-pressure cooker.
Cause I forgot to mention, this is a pressure cooker recipe. But you could also use a slow cooker, or a regular, old-school stove. But in that case you’d have to soak the lentils overnight (or use canned lentils, which is perfectly acceptable). With the pressure cooker, there’s no soaking involved ;)
Anyway, let’s go back to the recipe. Like I said, this is my version which involves the minimal amount of ingredients. Not because I’m lazy (which I am), but because it just works great this way. So, the minimal ingredients needed are: lentils (pretty self-explanatory), chorizo (vital to give the stew its distinctive taste), meat (also pretty important to provide some substance). Bacon doesn’t appear to be 100% mandatory, but seriously, why would anyone want to leave it out? And then, I also add potatoes, which are optional but popular.
The rest of the ingredients are just water and spices. Yeah.
Some people also add vegetables such as onions, peppers, carrots, leek; but honestly, I don’t think they’re necessary. And some people also add rice; I used to like it but nowadays I don’t include it. You can also use broth instead of water, and get creative with the spices. But aside from salt, I just use a pinch of cumin and some red pepper flakes (which I use on everything anyway). But remember that the flavor comes from the chorizo, and that the stew isn’t supposed to be hot (Argentine food is almost never hot or excessively spicy). The chorizo is the dry, Spanish kind.
On other notes: I cut the potatoes in big chunks so that they don’t turn into mush in the pressure cooker. The meat however is usually cut in big chunk, regardless of the cooking method. Either way, you’ll want to give this stew a try ;)
Recipe by Sabor Pastel
Yield: 4-5 servings
150 g / 5.5 oz bacon (whole)
750 g / 1.5 pounds beef (any kind you like to use on stews)
2 cups dry lentils
3-4 cups boiling water (use more for a more liquid stew)
2-3 medium potatoes
salt, to taste
spices, to taste
1. Cut the bacon into small strips. Preheat the pressure cooker on the sautee setting, and cook the bacon for a few minutes, stirring often.
2. Cut the beef in big chunks and salt on both sides. Set the bacon aside and sear the beef on both sides (you may have to do half of the beef first).
3. Add the chopped chorizo (you may have to peel it), the lentils, and the water. Add desired spices and mix thoroughly.
4. Peel the potatoes, cut them, and place them on top of the rest of the ingredients (don’t mix).
5. Cover and cook for 35-40 minutes (on an electric pressure cooker – stovetop versions will need less time).