Sunday, October 05, 2008

Twiggy Muddy Sludge!

How to make a steaming cauldron of
Twiggy Muddy Sludge
or Lentil, Potato, Snausage & Wild Rice Soup

Good for: plastering holes in thatched roofs; drying into bricks for adobe-based architecture; tuck-pointing; drawing splinters; soothing the burning and redness of anaphylactic shock associated with those allergic to bee stings, in the form of a poultice; general nutritional needs; camouflage markings in deep jungle military maneuvers.

1. Saw off a decent pile of lardons from a package of frozen thick-cut bacon and render them slowly in a big pot you'll be cooking A Lot of stuff later. When they are nicely crisp, drain them with a slotted spoon on paper towels and pour off all but 1 T of the bacon fat. You'll have about 1/2 c. of lardons when you're done. Set em aside (bundle the paper towels in a bowl and cover; they'll keep their texture in the fridge okay).

2. In the meantime pick over and rinse a pound of lentils. Cut up some aromatics, whatever you have (even none is fine--doesn't matter): an onion, carrots, celery, a pepper, garlic, whatever and cook those first in the bacon fat, stirring, stirring. Then dump the lentils in. Add a couple quarts of chicken stock, some bay leaves, vinegar, tomato paste, cumin, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, Worchestershire sauce. Cook a long time. 35-40 min recommended; if you let it go 20 min too long and come back to find it (from the top at least) a steaming cake of drying lentils, stir up the liquid from the bottom in relief and take out the bay leaves. You do want to end up with a liquidy mess when done. At this point it's easiest if you get exhausted with the whole process and throw beans in the fridge overnight, because the next step's easier cold.

3. Puree your lentils, however you have to do it. If you use your blender, do it in batches, and this is where Cold makes it easier (those sitcoms where people blender stuff all over the kitchen are real, man.) You want the mixture quite pureed--lentil skins can taste less like textural contrast and more like a mistake to the tooth.
Reserve puree in a bowl to the side.

(4,5 & 6 happen semi-simultaneously, depending on stove size, etc. Also 3, kinda.)

4. Prepare the Meat for your soup in your big pot that you've rinsed out. I sauteed very slowly in a little olive oil: cubes of leftover ham, very thin slices of frozen breakfast sausage and some thin slices of leftover flank steak. Add the bacon bits too. Get em going.

5. Set 3-4 peeled cubed potatoes in a pot of cold salted water to parboil. I used starchy russets; I think red waxys (you'd use more) would actually better in this case--they were hard to keep from disentegrating. But whatever. Cook them until underdone, drain in colander and cover with a tea towel. Note: RESERVE 2 c. of the potato cooking liquid in a pyrex measure in case you need to thin out soup.

6. Cook around 1-1/4 c. wild rice in all chicken stock (around 2-1/3 c.). It's not going to smell that good. It will take around 45-50 min including resting/fluffing time. Wild rice...such an adult film star.

7. NOW TO MIX! Add beans to meats in pot. Then add potatoes, stirring well, then add wild rice for the twiggy finale. Stir and heat through. Add potato water as necc.

8. You will now have a pot of greyish grassy lumpy soup that weighs about 30 pounds. There will be enough salt in it probably from the meats. When it go to this point I was sick of dealing with it so I dished myself a bowl and put it in the fridge once it cooled, let it do its marrying of flavors in the cold. If I had a bigger/soup pot or a bigger stove, I might have done more cooking/fidgeting/marrying there, but it wasn't gonna work for me.

It ages well. Makes enough for a good 2-3 Tupperwares'-full in the freezer, once you're sick of it again. Here it is with toasted buttered cornbread (have you ever seen so much fiber in one bowl? it should have imploded), but it sure doesn't need much accompanying.


Todd Lund said...

Elizabeth (may I call you Elizabeth?) your blog is an absolute hoot--I always enjoy your perspective. And this looks like such an inspired and soulful dish, I'm going to have to try making it this week. Besides, the weather's turned damp and chilly in Minneapolis, and this looks like just the thing for it. Cheers,

hanne said...

Hee. I love these ad hoc recipes. They make me very happy.