Coming back to work after Thanksgiving break, I made a vow to myself: no more chocolate, random desserts, doughnuts, and the like until Christmas. Then about an hour into my workday, a cookie from our shared snacks area somehow made its way into my my mouth. Sigh.
Being “good” this time of year is hard. I’m coming off a Halloween-candy-and-pie hangover and entering a season of treats, potlucks, and the urge to drink peppermint hot chocolate. And wine.
If you can’t keep your hands off the sweets, what you can do is make good choices for your meals, right? Well, that and exercising, which I do do with regularity, but it’s certainly not as fun as eating (which is probably part of my problem…). This meal will counteract some of December’s inevitable spike in sugar. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious. I feel like we eat a lot more variety in the carb and side department than most people, but I still get sick of the same stuff. Every once in a while I remember, “hey, we all really like lentils! Why do I not make more lentils?” and then, well…I make more lentils.
This is a complete meal made in one pot and is earthy, comforting, and full of protein. We did end up having a salad on the side, but if you want to get a green in there and avoid making something else (even though it’s easy to do so, as 90% of this meal is hands-off cooking), wilting in some leafy greens at the end would be an excellent choice.
One-Pot Chicken and Lentils
3 strips of bacon, sliced
1.5 lbs. bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
1 onion, diced
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup dry white wine
1.5 tsp. fresh or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1.75 cups chicken broth
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 small potato, peeled and diced (optional)
Heat a large, deep, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook until it’s crisp and the fat has rendered. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving the rendered fat in the pan.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in the pan. Brown on both sides, without cooking through, and remove to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook the onion until it starts to soften, about 2-3 minutes (if there is not enough bacon fat left in the pan you can add a little olive oil). Stir in the carrots, celery, mushrooms, and a pinch of salt. Saute until the mushrooms are tender and their liquid has been absorbed. Add the garlic and tomato paste, sauteing until fragrant (about a minute), and then pour in the wine. Deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until the wine has mostly evaporated.
Add the thyme, bay leaf, chicken broth, lentils, potato (if using), and cooked bacon. Bring to a boil, top with the chicken, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer until lentils are soft and chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Season to taste.