Crispy Lentils with Ground Lamb

By • February 19, 2013 • 43 Comments



Author Notes: Adapted from "The Essential New York Times Cookbook"; original recipe by Mark Bittman.Amanda Hesser

Serves 4

  • 3/4 pounds ground lamb
  • 4 cups freshly cooked French green lentils, 1 cup cooking liquid reserved
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 dried ancho or chipotle, soaked in warm water, stemmed, seeded, and minced (or 1 teaspoon pure chile powder)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Minced cilantro, for serving
  • Greek-style yogurt, for serving
  • Cooked rice or pita, for serving
  1. Turn the heat to high under a large deep skillet and add the lamb a little at a time, breaking it into small pieces as you do. Stir and break up the meat a bit more, then add the cooked lentils. Keep the high heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils begin to brown and pop, 5 to 10 minutes. Don't worry if the mixture sticks a bit, but if it begins to scorch, lower the heat slightly.
  2. Add the cumin, chile, and garlic and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the reserved lentil liquid and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits. Season with salt and pepper, turn the heat to medium-low, and cook until the mixture is no longer soupy but not dry.
  3. Stir in the olive oil, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with cilantro if you like, and serve immediately, with yogurt and rice or pita bread.

Comments (43) Questions (0)

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about 1 month ago marymary

Loved this dish so much I've made it twice! I also used the recipe's main ingredients for an impromptu stew and everyone loved it. If I recreate the stew, I'll be sure to take notes and post it. Thanks for the inspiration!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 month ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Would love if you posted it -- thanks!

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about 1 month ago Josie Marsh

Excellent. Simple and tasty.

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about 1 year ago Dima Haddad

This looks yummy, although it is very hard for me to add meat to lentils, I am a Jordanian and grew up eating lentils with soups, salads Mujadara and other vegetarian dish, but the mix of meat and lentils is intriguing, I will give it a try for sure. http://procrastinatorcook...

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about 1 year ago chefbonandee

I combined this recipe with the Greek Lamb With Orzo one, using my favorite parts from each. So very tasty indeed.

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about 1 year ago Erica Beeney

Also every palate is different -- I'm a definite flavor slut (can't get enough ;). If I make again I'll try a chili instead of powder and adding bayleaf and garlic to cooking lentils -- maybe even a preserved lemon? In the meantime I'll try the lamb with orzo. Thanks!

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about 1 year ago Baywife

Erica, you're right, it's dull. Blame the recipe a much better one from this site is the Greek Lamb with Orzo.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Just noting that about 6 comments down, you called this "tasty." But you also made some adjustments to the recipe without trying the recipe as is, so let's be fair. Still, I agree the Greek Lamb with Orzo is great!

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about 1 year ago Erica Beeney

I made this tonight as have been dreaming of it for weeks. It was a little bland (I blame myself, not the recipe). I used chili powder and did salt liberally with french sea salt at the end but I wonder if I missed a trick to make it have a deeper flavor?

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about 1 year ago Abakkeful

So good! I'm just starting a Body Cleanse diet and need to keep dairy and red meat to a minimum. This did the trick without going cold turkey. Besides, I'm following up the two week cleanse with the Mediterranean diet. This will stay on the menu. I added a little bay leaf and garlic to the lentils while cooking to give them a little zing. The bay is a nice touch.

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over 1 year ago WoooPigSooie!

How many uncooked cups of lentils should I start with to be 4 cups cooked?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I usually do about 2 1/2 cups.

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over 1 year ago LizzyD77

This was absolutely delicious as written. Thank you!

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over 1 year ago Baywife

Tasty. I used 1 tsp ancho chili powder plus 1/2 tsp chipotle powder. It was spicy without too much heat. I used white wine instead of the lentil water -- it was a bit too tart, so I added some plain water (1/2 c). Still a bit dry, but the yoghurt helped ameliorate that.

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over 1 year ago Baywife

Can anyone tell me how to delete a saved recipe?

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over 1 year ago Baywife

Whole Foods has "French" lentils in the bulk section. They look like de Puy lentils but they're grown in Canada. They're also MUCH cheaper -- less than $3/pound. Real French lentils are about twice that.

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over 1 year ago MarionRose

I made this last week after it was posted. Super tasty. However, the lentils didn't get crispy at all. Maybe if I did in batches (and over a 50000BTU stove) they would have.

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over 1 year ago butterchi

I topped it off with Greek yogurt, fresh cilantro, and some jalapeno pickled raisins for some tangy sweetness... so yummy!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Nice! I like how everyone is taking it in their own direction.

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over 1 year ago Morris Bang

super tatsty, lasted for two meals. yogurt should not be missed when eating this!

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over 1 year ago tgnewman

So tasty! This made a rough day much better.

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over 1 year ago CorinneInParis

Instead of deglazing with the lentil liquid, has anyone tried wine?

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over 1 year ago healthierkitchen

I used some white wine and it was delicious!

Stringio

over 1 year ago Rebecca Balent

I just made this. I couldn't find french lentils, so I used regular ones, but it is amazing!!

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over 1 year ago tlynnec

Perhaps a silly question, but... how do you cook the lentils before beginning this recipe? I love eating lentils, but i've never made them myself before. :)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Some people simmer them like rice with a precise amount of liquid. You can cook them like pasta -- bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lentils and simmer until just cooked through, then drain the lentils reserving a cup or two of the cooking liquid.

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over 1 year ago tlynnec

Thanks!

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over 1 year ago erincpdx

Sounds delicious, but what makes the lentils crispy?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Sauteing them with the lamb makes them crispy.

Stringio

over 1 year ago Jill Salomon Donaty

This is delicious. Tasting it straight from the stovetop now. I added fresh mint because I had it on hand.

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over 1 year ago Dave Hoffman

You can jazz up the Greek yogurt by adding a couple tablespoons of cilantro pesto and either some red chili paste, Sriracha, or chili powder too.

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over 1 year ago tbuck

Looks like another one of those great "peasant" dishes.

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over 1 year ago c_bits

Hi Amanda. This looks like an awesome recipe! One question...is it 4 cups lentils before or after cooking?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

4 cups after cooking.

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over 1 year ago jet53

And about how much dried lentils does it take to make 4 cups when cooked?
Sounds like a great dish!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

2 to 3 cups. I'd do 3 to be safe.

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over 1 year ago serendipity2425

What makes French lentils "French"? Are French green lentils the same (or at least comparable) to readily available split peas? I use Goya's arvejas partidas verde; about 90% of the dried legumes/beans in my grocery store are Goya products. Can I substitute other lentil varieties?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I think of French green lentils as the small greenish black sort. They're about half the size of a traditional green lentil and are rounder -- they also hold together nicely after cooking.

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over 1 year ago Cathi Braasch

Do not substitute red lentils, unless perhaps your goal is to have a nice mush.

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over 1 year ago ninadora

French lentils are a bit different than regular lentils as Amanda said, but I would go with the Goya lentils before trying split peas. Or, you could try it with chickpeas as Amanda mentioned in the article. I like Goya products, just make sure they aren't too old. You can get French lentils mail order from numerous places on the web. I bet they have them on Amazon.

Stringio

over 1 year ago Kristen Kemp

Will be making this weekend but with turkey instead of lamb. Thanks for the great recipe!

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over 1 year ago susanm

Hi Amanda- This sounds like exactly what I need to make for dinner tonight. I have been on a "beans with every meal" kick for months, and lentils are a fav.
A question or 2:
Did you cook the lentils in water or broth?
Did you season them? Thanks!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

You can cook them in either water or broth, and definitely season them!