Lamb Chili with a Crunch

Chili always makes a wonderful one-pot dish to serve during cold weather.

The basics for any chili typically include meat, beans, tomatoes, onions, salt, pepper and chili powder. Many cooks enhance their recipes with cumin, oregano, garlic, chili peppers and/or hot sauce. Some even include chocolate and/or beer. It all boils down to personal preference.

During our childhood, my mother’s chili used kidney beans and ground beef. Over the years, her recipe has morphed. Substitutions have included black, pinto or cannellini beans. For the meat, it could be cube steak, shredded or ground chicken, turkey or pork. With chili, you can use any combination.

This recipe differs from any I’ve made before. The lentils give it some crunch, and I find the lamb has a fuller, richer flavor. Lentils also make a thick chili, one that allows a spoon to stand up straight. If you prefer a soupy chili, adding V8 Juice allows for that.

Lamb tends to be more expensive; so, if it doesn’t fit your budget, substituting another meat will be just as delicious.
Ingredients
1 pound lentils
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds ground lamb
2 large stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 teaspoons ground cumin
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces V-8 Juice, optional
Directions
Place the lentils in a large saucepan and cover with water by an inch. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the lentils and set aside. While the lentils are cooking, prep the chopped vegetables.

Heat the oil in a 5-quart pot or Dutch oven and add the meat. Cook for five or six minutes, stirring and breaking up clumps, then season with salt and pepper. Once cooked, transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the celery, carrots, red pepper, onions and cook until tender. Stir in the garlic, cumin, chili powder and oregano. Once blended add the lamb, tomatoes, chicken broth, lentils and season again with salt and pepper. If the chili is too thick, at this point add V-8 juice to thin it. Simmer for 30 minutes.

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