Have you ever eaten a dish so good you’ve thought about it days later, trying to figure out what the heck was in it? That was me this week after eating at The Tasting Kitchen in Santa Monica. The branzino there was deliciously buttery with pine nuts and castelvetrano olives, the steak crusted yet tender and juicy, and the wild boar atop a cheesy polenta melted in your mouth.
Not to take away from the magic of the food, but this was all kind of expected as I’ve been there before. What really surprised me this time around was–surprise! The lentils!
I’m obsessed- ask my roommate who has watched me cook only lentils for the last three days. These lentils were not blandly served as an afterthought side. Too small and dark to be red lentils, they held up most of their shape with a little bite to them- possibly green? brown? le puy? I don’t know, it’s a candlelight-type place so it was pretty dark in there.
All I know is they were served in a warm thick sauce I could drink on its own- somewhat creamy with hints of curry and paired with rapini roasted in a balsamic vinaigrette to cut through the richness. It was soo good I could have eaten that entire bowl by myself.
My lentils are only loosely inspired by this dish, since I still haven’t figured out exactly what’s in them- at this point I suspect it must be some ungodly amount of butter. If you know the secret recipe please let me know!
While these take on more spice, they are also cooked with crushed tomato, creating a thicker sauce with more acidity.
The chicken was a test for my new sous vide cooker, Joule! This handy little appliance is by ChefSteps, which is one of my favorite cooking resources.
The bird turned out super moist and juicy, with hints of lemon all the way through, BUT I made the rookie mistake of moving the thighs around too much in the pan while browning, resulting in less-than-perfect skins on two out of three pieces. Oh well, they were still delicious! The skin that was done correctly was crisp, and every bit tangy, salty and sweet from the lemon, garlic, and soy sauce marinade.
Sous Vide Lemon Chicken
I would plan on making at least one thigh per person. Prep is about 15 minutes and cook time is one hour and fifteen minutes. If you don’t have a sous vide machine, you can easily double the recipe to create a marinade for the thighs to chill in for 3-5 hours before searing in a cast iron skillet, then popping into the oven until cooked all the way through.
- 3-4 chicken thighs, bone in
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dry rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- 1 lemon
- salt and pepper
- chopped parsley for garnish
Start preheating your water bath- set the temperature to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Clean chicken, salt and pepper both sides. Cut lemon in half, Squeezing one half into a small bowl, and cutting the other half into 3-4 slices.
Whisk olive oil, soy sauce, rosemary, thyme, sage, and grated garlic into the same small bowl.
Place chicken into bag with skin sides down, facing the same way. Add sliced garlic cloves and lemon slices to the bag, then pour in the olive oil mixture as well.
Make sure all the chicken thighs are coated with the mixture, then vacuum seal the bag.
Once your water is at the right temperature, drop bag into the bath, set timer to an hour and fifteen minutes.
Once done cooking, immediately (but carefully) remove the bag from the water and transfer into a bowl of iced water to stop the chicken from overcooking.
Remove chicken from bag, patting off any excess marinade with paper towels. Do this very thoroughly as any marinade on the chicken will make your hot oil pop.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a pan on medium high heat- I recommend something like grapeseed oil which has a higher smoke point.
Once the oil is ready, place the thighs into the pan with skin sides down- now wait. Don’t mess with it! Or you will have sad naked chicken thighs.
Cook about 5 minutes till the skin looks brown and crispy on the egdes, then carefully flip and heat for 2-3 minutes.
Serve immediately once warmed all the way through with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
I didn’t follow one recipe- more like combined what I liked out of 2-3 after scouring the internet. This dish is pretty hearty and yields enough to fill a small stock pot, so as a side, you will have enough to feed 6-8 people or have bountiful leftovers.
- 1 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed
- 1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
- 2 mild Italian sausages, diced
- 1 16 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, diced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- salt to taste
In a small thick bottomed pot, melt 1 tablespoon of butter on medium high heat. I recommend using using a small dutch oven-style cast iron as you will be deglazing the pot.
Add diced sausages to the melted butter, and brown. Remove from pan and set aside on a paper towel.
Add in spices- curry powder, sweet paprika, cloves, and allspice. Then add the diced garlic, onion, and carrots. Stir frequently, cook veggies until they are fairly translucent, and make sure to scrape the bottom of your pot. Moisture from the veggies will help loosen all the browned bits from the sausage.
Slowly add in the chicken stock, making sure to scrape all the remaining flavor bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the can of crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then add the lentils.
Bring to a boil once more, then reduce to low heat, cooking the lentils until tender. They will soak up a lot of the liquid- if they soak up most of the liquid, but seem too dry still, add an additional quarter to a half cup of stock.
Once the lentils are done- about 20-30 minutes later, finish with the 3 tablespoons of butter to mellow out the spices. Stir well, salt to taste.