Roberto Gastelumendi’s Lentejas (lentils) with Chiles and Chicken

From the story:
A World Brought Together in Wood
Story and photos by Jessica Cook


Serves 4–6

In a large pot, boil 1½ cups lentils in water to cover along with a clove garlic, half an onion, and a bay leaf. Lower heat and cook until lentils are tender. Remove garlic, onion, bay leaf, and any excess water.

While lentils are cooking, reconstitute 6 New Mexico dried chiles (or other mild dried chiles) in boiling water. Let soak for 15 minutes before blending with 1 cup of the chiles’ soaking water.

Dice 2 white onions, mince 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, and chop 6 tomatoes. Heat some olive oil in a sauté pan. Sauté onion for a few minutes, add and sauté garlic for another minute, add and sauté tomatoes for a few minutes more. Stir in the blended chiles and set aside.

Season 4 to 6 bone-in chicken thighs with salt and pepper and sear on high heat (skin-side down) for 10 minutes in a covered cast iron pan. Turn thighs and lower heat to cook chicken through until juices run clear.
Add sautéed onions, garlic, tomatoes, and blended chiles to the pot of cooked lentils. Add the chicken. Mix and heat through so the flavors can meld. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Jessica Cook is an arts and social justice writer and casual photographer with publishing credits in Orion Magazine. She is committed to art, community, social justice, and learning from difference—from cultural strategy for migrant rights to artisan business development internationally, food system projects, and youth arts and outdoors-access programs.