Not the usual chili
Cold and snowy? That means it’s time for chili! Spicy and hearty = warm.
But why go for the same old same old? Today we’re using lamb and lentils – two ingredients that pair extremely well. You don’t often see them in chili, but why not? Both play beautifully with spice.
This chili would make a terrific main dish for your Super Bowl party. It’s something most people won’t expect, so it can be your own personal trick play. Sounds like a touchdown in our book.
Recipe: Lamb, Lentil, and Green Chile Chili
We’re making this dish with leftover cooked lamb (a shoulder or leg roast is ideal). But you can make it from uncooked lamb if you don’t happen to have leftovers (see Notes).
We like to use roasted Hatch chilies from New Mexico in this dish. (We roasted pounds of them in late August, when they were in season, then bagged the chilies in recipe-size portions and froze them.)
If you don’t have a supply of chilies on hand, you can buy poblano or Anaheim chilies from the supermarket. For instructions on roasting them, see the Procedure in our post on Pulled-Pork Green Chile Chili. Or you can skip the roasting and just use canned green chilies. You generally can find these (including canned Hatch chilies) in the Mexican section of most supermarkets.
Prep time for this dish is about 15 minutes (plus you’ll need time to roast the chilies if you don’t already have them on hand). Cooking time adds about an hour, most of it unattended.
This recipe yields about 8 servings. Leftovers keep well for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container (or you can store them frozen for weeks).
- ~1 pound leftover cooked lamb (see Notes if you prefer to use fresh lamb)
- 4 to 8 ounces roasted green chilies (to taste; we use Hatch green chilies)
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves garlic (or to taste)
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers (to taste; optional)
- ~1 pound potatoes (boiling potatoes are best, but russets will work in a pinch)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder (may substitute a spicier chile powder if you prefer)
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 6 cups chicken stock (or water)
- 8 ounces dried lentils
- jalapeño slices for garnish (optional)
- Cut the leftover cooked lamb into bite-size chunks (maybe ½-inch square). Set aside.
- Cut the roasted green chilies into pieces of about ½ inch, then set aside. (If you need to roast the chilies, follow the procedure in our post for Pulled-Pork Green Chile Chili. You can do the roasting a day ahead of time.)
- Peel the onion and cut it into thin slices or dice of about ½ inch. Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and slice it thinly or chop it into fine mince. Set aside.
- Wash the jalapeño peppers and cut them lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (the oil on these is hot, so be careful). Chop the peppers into very small dice (you may want to reserve some slices for garnish). Set aside, then wash your hands with soap and water to remove any hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
- Scrub the potatoes and peel them (or not; sometimes we leave the skins on). Cut the potatoes into dice of about ½ inch. Set aside.
- Place a large stock pot or Dutch oven (one that holds at least 4 quarts) over medium stovetop heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. When the oil is heated (it’ll shimmer; about 15 seconds), add the chopped onion and season with salt. Sauté until the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes, perhaps a bit longer). Add the chopped chilies (including the diced jalapeños) and the garlic. Sauté for about one minute.
- Add the diced potatoes and the lamb pieces. Add the cumin, coriander, oregano, and chile powder. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Then add the diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and dried lentils. Bring the mixture to a simmer and set a timer for 10 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, taste the chili and adjust seasoning if necessary. Then cook for an additional 50 minutes. (The chili will be ready after an hour, but you can cook it longer if you prefer).
- Serve, garnishing each bowl with a slice of jalapeño pepper if desired.
- Like more garnish on your chili? Try some diced onion or shredded cheese. Or a dollop of sour cream.
- Exact quantities aren’t critical in this recipe. In particular, you may want to use more meat than we specify.
- Leftover roast lamb (especially from the leg or shoulder) is ideal in this dish. But you if don’t have leftover lamb and want to use fresh, here’s how: Use about 1½ pounds of lamb (you can use ground, or lamb leg or shoulder). If using leg or shoulder, cut it into pieces about ½-inch square. Then brown the lamb in the stockpot or Dutch oven that you’ll be using to cook the chili. Remove the lamb pieces, then proceed with the recipe.
- If you don’t have green chilies on hand (or don’t want to use them), you can substitute 2 to 3 tablespoons of chile (not chili) powder. (We do recommend including some jalapeño peppers in that case).
- Remember, chile powder – with an e – is made from dried chile peppers. Chili powder – with an i – contains chile powder plus other seasonings (usually cumin, coriander, and oregano).
- Ancho chile powder has good flavor, but isn’t all that spicy. So that’s a good one to use if you’re not into hot. We often use dried Hatch chile powder, because we like spicy.
- Dried lentils cook in 20 to 30 minutes, so no need to presoak them. We use the regular brown lentils in this dish, although you could use another variety if you wish.
- Kosher salt is less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger, so they don’t pack a measure as tightly). If substituting regular table salt, start with about half as much as we recommend. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Lamb and lentils in chili?” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Who’d have thought this would work so well? You must have a sheepskin in chili making.”
“Mutton ventured, mutton gained,” I said.
“Watch out, my little lamb,” said Mrs K R. “I wolf down sheep – as you can see from my empty bowl.”
“What big eyes you have,” I said. “Is this a plea for seconds?”
“More like a demand,” said Mrs K R. “You know how wolves are.”
“Another serving coming up in two shakes of a lamb’s tail,” I said.
“Good idea,” said Mrs K R. “Otherwise things could get wooly around here.”
And I’d have to go on the lam.
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Pulled Pork Green Chile Chili
Texas-Style Chili con Carne
Chunky Chicken Chili with Green Chilies
BBQ Beef Brisket Chili
Cabbage Chili with Spicy Sausage
Chunky Pork and Sweet Potato Chili
Quinoa and Sweet Potato Chili
Slow Cooker Homestyle Chili
Meat and Potatoes Chili
Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans
Or check out the index for more