This is a recipe I learned from Oscar Carrizosa, the chef and owner of Casa Crespo, our favorite restaurant in Oaxaca, Mexico (we ate here 3 times in an 11 day trip) when we visited in May. If you ever get a chance to go, a cooking class here can't be missed - visiting the local market, making classic mole and fresh tortilla (with a trip to the Molinero or corn masa grinder down the street), and enjoying a mezcal on the terrace overlooking the Santo Domingo Cathedral were all highlights, as was Oscar's hospitality and pride for his city. This stew, despite its somewhat unique tropical twist, translates well to American grocery stores, and is even more comforting in Cleveland and other chilly cities in the fall or winter. A great go to tip I picked up making this recipe is to save stems of herbs - like cilantro, parsley or dill - and freeze them to use later to enrich broths with fresh bright flavor. Enjoy! —Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
1 hour 10 minutes
4 as a meal
dried green lentils
cloves of garlic, 2 smashed with the side of a knife, 2 finely minced
white onion, 1/2 sliced and 1/2 finely chopped
vegetable oil (or other light neutral cooking oil)
slices of thick center cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch lardons
plantain (ripe, green skinned with patches of black), peeled and sliced in rounds
ounces of fresh pineapple (about 1/4 of one fruit), cored and chopped into chunks similar in size to your plantain slices
medium plum tomatoes (Oscar blanches and peels his, but I am too lazy and keep the skins on), seeded and chopped
bunch of cilantro stems + about 1/4 cup of leaves, chopped
In a large Dutch oven, bring lentils and water to a boil with the 2 smashed garlic cloves and the sliced half of white onion. Reduce heat, cover with a lid and simmer over low for about 20 minutes, until lentils are tender but not breaking down. Drain the lentils and reserve the cooking liquid. Remove the smashed garlic but leave the onion slices (which break down with further cooking). Season the cooked and drained lentils with salt and pepper.
In the same Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the bacon lardons and cook until just starting to firm up (not crisp), about 5 minutes. Add the chopped white onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 more minutes, then add in the 2 cloves of minced garlic and the allspice and cook an additional minute.
Add the plantain, pineapple, and tomatoes. Cook until the plantain is soft, about 15 minutes. Return the lentils to the pot with about 3 cups of the reserved cooking liquid, plus the cilantro stems, bay leaf, and halved jalapeno; continue cooking over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens a little, adding more reserved cooking liquid if it becomes too thick for your taste, about 20 minutes. Remove the cilantro stems, bay leaf and jalapeno half. Stir in the cilantro leaves off of the heat. Taste again for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy (preferably with a mezcalito/little sipping shot of mezcal)!