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Food52 Review: I tried this on a cold snowy winter's night and this hearty dish warmed us all thoroughly. The preparation time was very reasonable (for a lentil dish), and could quickly and easily be made even on a weeknight. I love the textural variation in the dish with the crunchiness added by the bacon and the escarole. I also found the fresh, light notes added by the orange and fennel provided a unique and fantastic balance to the heavy starch of the lentils. —epickles
- 4 thick cut slices of bacon (Nueske's is a good choice)
- 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 2 cups water, plus more as necessary to wilt the escarole
- 1 cup Lentilles du Puy (small French green lentils)
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 3 leeks, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced
- 2 peels of orange zest (about 1" x 3", each)
- 1 small bulb fennel, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 medium head of escarole, coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons best quality balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- Salt, to taste
- Place chicken stock, water, bay leaves, and lentils in a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat; bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook until lentils are al dente (on the softer side) - about 40 minutes; add more water, as necessary, to keep the lentils from drying out.
- In the meantime, fry bacon until crisp in a dutch oven; remove with tongs to drain on paper towels and set aside, reserving about 2 Tablespoons of the bacon fat in the dutch oven.
- Add oil to the bacon fat in the dutch oven; add leeks and orange zest strips and saute over medium heat until leeks are just beginning to soften; add fennel, carrots, and a good dose of black pepper, and saute until the vegetable are crisp tender; remove from heat until lentils are cooked.
- When the lentils are finished cooking, stir them, with 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid (add more water, if necessary), into the vegetables in the dutch oven; bring to a simmer, add escarole, and cook until escarole is withered.
- Remove from heat; stir in vinegar; stir in cream, adjust salt and pepper to taste; transfer to favorite serving bowl; top with crumbled bacon, and serve.
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