In fact, any kind of stew I consider to be an autumn-winter dish, but it is rainy and cold in Chicago today. So I prepared a wonderful, hearty beef and lentil stew.
I put ‘beef’ in the title of the recipe, but actually lamb, pork or chicken could be used here with great success.
My today’s recipe was cooked with dried forest mushrooms and a minimum of seasoning. But I’m looking forward to see a flavor and taste transformation of this simple stew by adding various spices and herbs to this dish.
Fresh parsley I sprinkled over the stew developed a wonderful aroma.
For cooking I used small green French lentils (du Puy) as they are the best in retaining its shape. But any dark lentils (brown, green, black) could be used in the stew. For reference, dark lentils are more nutritious than red ones. Lentils are an important part of the Mediterranean diet, and these legumes are recognized as one of the few healthiest products for the human body.
For a vegetarian version you should eliminate the meat and add the mushrooms, 12-16 oz of Portobello, white bottom, cremini or forest. The cooking time for the mushrooms would be approximately 20-30 minutes (before adding the lentils).
Beef and Lentil Stew with Mushrooms
- 1 – 1 ½ lb beef for stew (pork, lamb, chicken or 12-16 oz of mushrooms)
- 2/3 – 1 cup dried wild mushrooms
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- Black pepper
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 ½ cups dark lentils (I use green French du Puy)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Fresh parsley for garnish
Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the dried mushrooms. Soak them for approximately 30 minutes.
Cut the beef into large pieces of a size greater than a walnut. Pat dry the meat with a paper towel.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat the olive oil. Add the beef and brown over high heat, to get a crust.
Add the onions. Fry over high heat until the onions start changing their color.
Add the garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
Add the carrots. Stir.
Add the mushrooms with their water. Add water or chicken (or vegetable) stock so the liquid completely covers the meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer over very low heat for about 1 – 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. At this point, the meat should be ready (fork soft).
Rinse the lentils with water. Add to the meat, add water or stock, bring to a boil and simmer, covered until lentils are cooked, for about 20-30 minutes. The amount of water and exact cooking time depend on the variety of lentils. Check for the liquid during cooking. Add more water if needed.
Serve stew sprinkled with fresh parsley.
Cook with pleasure and enjoy the world!