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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Red Wine Braised Pork and Lentils with Swiss Chard

 Lentils are a fabulous little bean that cooks quickly and is loaded with nutritional value. Fiber is a given with any bean, but lentils also help lower cholesterol and are a great source of vitamins, minerals and protein while being low in fat.

So if this little power packed legume is so amazing, why isn't everyone huddling over the lentil pot stewing in the kitchen?

Perhaps it's because lentils need a little flavor to make them shine. Or perhaps most people associate lentils with a flavor they are not fond of, such as curry (which I love and happens to go great with lentils.) Or perhaps it's because the lentil isn't that pretty to look at?

Enter red wine here. It's no secret that I tend to have an open bottle of wine on my counter at all times. Usually the bottle is emptied into my belly via a glass. However, on occasion, there has been the odd encounter with bottle that doesn't get drained.

We all know a little wine is good for us, so this is just an opportunity to ingest it in different way. Mix the wine with the lentils, add in little pork for heartiness and you have a cozy, nutritious meal on your hands. Superbly fat and happy.

Fat and Happy Food Blog Tips and Techniques: This recipe could work in a crock pot; though I haven't tested it this way. My suggestion would be to cut down on the liquid and only add in the Swiss chard for just a few minutes before serving. You could opt to make this vegetarian by leaving out the meat, there is still enough flavor to satisfy.  

Red Wine Braised Pork and Lentils with Swiss Chard 
over Brown Rice

3/4 cup lentils
4 ounces ground pork
1/3 cup onions, chopped
1/3  cup carrots, chopped
1/3 cup celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbls olive oil
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 cups broth
Salt and pepper
2 tsp mustard
1/2 tbls apricot jelly

Garlicky Swiss Chard

1 bunch of Swiss chard
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup sliced onions or 6 pearl onions
2-3 tablespoons red wine
drizzle of olive oil

Cook the lentils in 2 cups of simmering water for 5 minutes, drain and set aside. Place the ground pork in the hot pan (add a drizzle of olive oil if needed) and cook until nearly done. Then add in the remaining olive oil, the onions, carrots and celery and cook for 5 minutes.

Add in the minced garlic, let that cook for a minute then add in the wine, mustard, apricot jelly, broth, drained lentils and salt. Cover and cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour over medium-low heat until the lentils are soft.

Get the rice cooking (see recipe below.) While the lentils and rice are cooking, rinse the Swiss chard under cold water. Cut the steams off from the leaves- to do this, follow the stem all the way to the top of the leaf, you will essentially be cutting the leaf in two. Cut off any bad edges of the stem, then cut into small  2" pieces. Tear the leaves into pieces.

In a medium size saute pan, cook the onions in a little drizzle of olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add in the chopped garlic and the Swiss chard ends. Let that cook about 5 minutes, tossing often. Deglaze the pan with a few tablespoons of the red wine, then add in the Swiss chard leaves along with a good pinch of salt. Cook until the leaves begin to wilt (just a few minutes.)

Add a scoop of the brown rice in the bottom of a shallow bowl, top with the braised lentil stew and a little of the Swiss chard. Serve with a hunk of Brown Bread (or choose a Gluten Free bread for the GF option.)

Brown rice
1 cup uncooked brown rice
2 cups water or broth (follow package directions for exact amounts)
1/2 cup onions, diced fine
1/2 cup celery, diced fine
1 garlic clove
1 tbls olive oil

Over medium heat saute the onions, celery and garlic clove in the same pan you plan to cook the rice in. cook until the onions and celery begin to soften (about 5 minutes.) Add in the rice and the water; follow the package instructions on water ratio as many varieties differ. Fluff and serve with the Red Wine Braised Lentil and Pork Stew.


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