Some foods are considered to be lucky to eat at the coming of the New Year. I heard somewhere that eating lentils at this time is a good thing. In some cultures, lentils signify good fortune, wealth and prosperity. And so I prayed and ate a bowlful of this. Amen...
Words from Nigella (and from me): If you want to lose the lardons, do, but for me everything's better with bacon (indeed!). Still, I can see that those after goodness and purity might want to lose that luscious salty fat. Not me, though... (and not me).
Poached Chicken with Lardons and Lentils
Recipe by Nigella Lawson
2 x 15 tablespoons garlic oil
100 gr smoked lardons or pancetta (or diced smoked streaky bacon)
1 carrot, peeled and halved lengthwise, roughly chopped
1 leek, cleaned, trimmed and halved lengthwise, roughly chopped
3 x 15 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
grated zest 1 lemon
125 g puy lentils
1 teaspoon English mustard
1 chicken supreme (skinned breast, bone in), preferable organic
500 ml water
salt and pepper, to taste
Fry the lardons, carrot, leek, parsley, mint and lemon zest in the oil for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently, in a smallish, heavy-based pan (big enough to lay 1 chicken breast in) that has a lid.
Stir in the lentils and cook for another minute, before adding the yellow gloop of mustard and stir that in, too.
Sit the chicken on top of everything in the pan, and add the water. Bring to the boil, put on a lid and simmer very, very gently for 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
You can eat now, but everything is at its most tender best made in advance and reheated. I let it cool in the pan with the lid off, but for no longer than 1 hour, the put the lid back on and stash the pan in the fridge. Later, warm it in the pan with the lid on, until piping hot again. Why add to the washing up?
If you wish, sprinkle more chopped parsley and serve with more English mustard.