Thursday, March 12, 2015

Kitchen Bootcamp: How to make firm lentils

Lentils can turn to complete mush unless you know how to properly prepare them. Firm lentils are especially crucial for lentil salads.

While I am a food blogger, I am not a culinary professional. I know flavors and how to mix and match, but my skills are few compared to my creativity. So sometimes it's good to take a step back, do some research and figure out how to get it right.

I was doing some research for a lentil salad and came across an awesome article and video by America's Test Kitchen on how to make firm lentils. Not only do they give you instructions, but they tell you WHY you need to do these things and take these steps.

I mean who wants mushy when you can get them firm, like this dude's butt!

Basically it is PURE GENIUS!

FINALLY someone tells me why, so I don't skip a step that seems inconsequential. (Yeah I know some big words...)

So you can watch the video here or I can shorten it and outline the steps for awesomely firm lentils below. (Firmer than Suzzanne Sommer's thighs from her thighmaster!)

Step one: 

Choose Your Lentils wisely. Not all are created equal. I used Trader Joe's Green Lentils. Some are more prone to a mushy texture. I didn't hear of the specific ones they pointed out so picked up what I could find. But definitely do not use orange or red, they will get mush no matter what!

Step two: 

Brine dried lentils in salted water.
1 cup lentils + 4 cups water + 1 teaspoon salt
Why? The salt in the water makes the pectin in the lentil sin more pliable.

Step three: 

Simmer lentils in the oven at 325ยบ for 40-60 minutes.
2 cups water + 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock + 1/2 teaspoon salt
Optional: add 5 smashed garlic cloves, herbs, peppercorns etc. for flavoring
Why? The oven offers a more gentle and even heat than the direct heat of stovetop. The salt added makes sure they stay firm and also seasons them with flavor so they're not bland.

Hope this helps you guys out!! I will be doing more posts like this to help you navigate your kitchen so all these things aren't so scary. Also you really cannot run til you learn to walk. Learning the right way to make things is tried and true and works!

I am ALL for creative license, but the basics are a MUST and I never even thought to look into them because it's not as fun. SO I made it fun with a silly zombie graphic.