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Cassoulet with lentils wins contest

Lentils in cassoulet, salad and chili were the top three winners in the 2012 Legendary Lentil Cook-off at the National Lentil Festival.

A booklet of the recipes in this year’s cook-off is available at the Pullman Chamber of Commerce for $5. Add $1.50 for postage to have one mailed to you, or visit to order. Reach the Pullman Chamber of Commerce at (509) 334-3565.

Here is the top winning recipe:

French Cassoulet with Lentils, Bacon, Sausage and Chicken Confit

Lily Julow, Gainesville, Fla., first-place winner, Legendary Lentil Cook-off, National Lentil Festival 2012

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2-by-2-inch thick slices of pancetta (4 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 pound dried lentils, soaked for 2 hours and drained

4 thyme sprigs

2 quarts water

4 cups chicken broth

1 large head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled (see note)

Kosher salt

1 rotisserie chicken, skin discarded, cut into 8 pieces

3/4 pound salami, sliced crosswise, 1/2-inch thick pieces

4 ounces lean slab bacon, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups coarse fresh white or egg bread crumbs

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

In a large saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until the fat has been rendered, about 5 minutes.

Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.

Add the lentils, thyme, water and broth and bring to a boil, simmer over low heat, stirring and skimming occasionally for 30 minutes.

Add the garlic cloves and simmer until the garlic and lentils are tender, about 15 minutes.

Discard the thyme sprigs then season mixture with salt and let cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate in the saucepan overnight

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and reheat cassoulet over moderate heat and transfer to a large, deep baking dish and nestle the chicken pieces, salami and bacon into the lentils and bake for 30 minutes, or until the cassoulet is bubbling and hot.

Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.

In a skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the bread crumbs and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle the bread crumbs and parsley over the cassoulet and serve.

Note: Plunge garlic cloves into boiling water for 1 second for easy peeling.

Yield: 6-8 servings