So I've been eating a lot of lentils due to the fact that its winter and in the winter, my grandma likes to stock pile this homemade vegetable lentil soup. Like literally every year we eat it all winter long, right up until March. The recipe calls for regular lentils, and thats what we use, but in my local supermarket they have a large variety of beans, legumes, and grains, so I starting looking at other varieties. A bag of split red lentils caught my eye and of course I bought them! Looking at them for a few days, I didn't want to make regular lentil soup and I wanted something hearty since it's back to being 28 degrees here in NYC.. So with that being said ...this recipe was born. I knew I wanted something interesting for this soup and the chicken skin cracklings fit my idea perfectly. They really were the highlight of my entire day.. Fat fried in fat? LISTEN! Whoooo!
RED LENTILS W/ PULLED CHICKEN AND COCONUT MILK
2quarts + more of water
6 pc fresh raw chicken thighs, skin removed and set aside
4-6 fresh raw chicken backs, skin removed and set aside
1 bag of red split lentils, picked
2 onions, separated (1 diced and 1 thinly sliced )
1 head of garlic, peeled and separated
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 can of sweetened coconut milk
1 small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 stick of butter (optional)
Quick Chicken Stock: In a large stock pot, combine all chicken pieces, onions, carrots, 1/2 of the garlic cloves and water. Simmer for about an hour.
Remove cooked chicken legs and thighs and place on a sheet pan. Place chicken in the fridge to cool down just enough to handle with hands. When chicken is cooled, pull meat off bones, and set aside.
Strain chicken stock through a sieve, rinsing out stock pot, and pouring chicken stock back into stock pot and place over medium heat. Add lentils to stock, and cook lentils until tender, about 35 minutes. Half way through cooking add remaining half of the onions, carrots, garlic, potatoes and ginger. When lentils and vegetables are cooked add pulled chicken, coconut milk, butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon over a bowl of fresh hot rice, or eat alone as a hearty soup.
CHICKEN SKIN CRACKLINGS
Reserved chicken skins
Oil for frying
In between layers of paper towels, place raw chicken skins flat onto paper towels and press down, patting completely dry. Lay dry skins on a plate or cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator, for about 10 minutes. In a large pot or deep fryer, heat enough oil to cover the bottom. When oil is extremely hot, place chicken skins in hot oil and fry until brown and crispy. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain excess oil, and season with salt.