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Smoked lentil chili a robust fall favorite

Melody Gow of Mead began making her Smoked Lentil Chili in college.

It was the mid- to late 1980s, and she was going to school at Eastern Washington University. She came up with this recipe as an alternative to canned chili, which she said cost more and wasn’t as good.

“I’m still making it after all these years,” said Gow, who likes it for its “robust flavor.” It’s especially good “on really cold days when I’m trying to warm up,” she said.

Even though it’s still hot outside and it might be a couple of months before folks start thinking about hearty, warm stews and chilis, it’s being published here in honor of the National Lentil Festival this weekend.

Smoked Lentil Chili

From Melody Gow of Mead

1 pound hamburger

1 sweet onion, chopped

1/4 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped

2 cups lentils

4 cups water

2 (14.5-ounce) cans Mexican-style stewed tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 tablespoon mild chili powder

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup light Italian salad dressing

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 (11.5-ounce) can of vegetable juice such as V8

Fry hamburger, onion and green pepper in a nonstick frying pan until hamburger is no longer pink and onions are caramelized. Rinse and sort lentils. In a 6-quart kettle, bring remainder of ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and add hamburger mixture.

Stir every 5 minutes for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on desired texture.

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