Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beans, beans, good for your heart

OK, I was born and raised in North Carolina with two very Southern grandmas. I do not leave the house without lipstick and mascara. And as much as I would like too, given my fond affection for jammie pants, I put on real clothes to go to the grocery. But sometimes you just have to be silly and the beans rhyme fits a silly day.

The second easy and healthy recipe is poached eggs over lentils. Yes- I know I started posting the 2 healthy recipes last week but life sometimes gets in the way of blogger land.

We went out on NYE and had a wonderful dinner at Vivace a wonderful restaurant here in Raleigh. The amuse bouche was lentils with speck. It was heavenly. We both wanted more than a little taste and I decided to make this a meal with a Southern twist, country ham of course.

This is what I came up with...

Black Lentils with Country Ham and Shallot served with a poached Egg

Yum! I know it sounds fancy but trust me it was easy.


The lentils:
1 1/2 cups French caviar, or du Puy, lentils (regular lentils will work if you prefer them)
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

3 eggs (1 for me and 2 for hubby)
1 slice of country ham (I used the biscuit slices you see in the grocery, you may use as much or as little as you like)
1 shallot
1 tsp of olive oil

The lentils:

Place the lentils in a small stainless steel pot and add 3 cups cold water. Add the bay leaf and bring to a simmer over medium heat. When the mixture comes to a light boil, reduce heat to low and cook uncovered for approximately 10 minutes add salt and continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring a few times to ensure even cooking. The lentils should be firm but not crunchy, and the interior should be smooth. If at 20 minutes cooking time, they have not reached your desired doneness, continue cooking for an additional 5-10 minutes. You will want to check them so that they do not overcook.

In a small frying pan heat the olive oil over med low heat. Add your sliced ham and cook for 5 minutes. Add your shallot and cook for 5 minutes. Watch the shallot and don’t let it burn. We want to cook it low so that we get as much flavor as possible for when we add our lentils. When done, remove shallots and ham from heat.
Once the lentils are done, drain and add to the ham and shallot. Place the pan on a low burner to keep warm.

Poaching your eggs:

Heat 2 inches of water or broth with about 1 Tbsp. of vinegar in a wide, shallow pan to a steady simmer (or until an instant-read thermometer reads 180°). Adjust heat to maintain this temperature.

Crack eggs into into a measuring cups before adding water. This allows you to remove any bits of shell (I am so not a professional cracker), make sure the egg is not a yucky egg, and have more control when guiding the egg into the pan so you don’t break the yellow yummy goodness that will make your lentils extra special good.

Hold the cup right at the liquid's surface and gently pour the egg into the liquid. Repeat with remaining eggs, up to four eggs per batch.

Letting eggs come to room temperature before poaching them helps them cook more evenly. Also, the fresher the egg, the better it will hold its shape while poaching.
I like runny yolks for the poached eggs over lentils. I actually like runny yolks for pretty much any recipe that uses poached eggs, but especially for this recipe. The yolk makes for a delicious “sauce” over the lentils.

Cook room temperature eggs 2 minutes for runny yolks, chilled eggs for 3 minutes. Add an additional 2 minutes if you prefer a set yolk. This is your dinner make like you want it. That is the great thing about cooking you can have it your way, have it your way. (Yes there is music always playing in my head, some good, some- not so good like fast food jingles.) Using a slotted spoon, gently lift each egg out of the pan Set eggs on a paper towel to drain off as much liquid as possible.

Serve the poached egg nestled in the lentils with a green salad or whatever else you feel like doing. As you can see I gave a generous portion of lentils since this was our dinner. You can leave off the poached egg and serve this as a side. This will change the serving size to 4.

If my recipes sound a little wonky please let me know. This is my first attempt at writing them from scratch and I am writing as I cook. I may have written wrong or added wrong (my failure in all math related fields is of epic proportions). Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

As hubby would say, I hope its yummy to the tummy. :) j

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