Chef Ximena Torres’ TV show, La Receta Perfecta (The Perfect Recipe), seeks to inject fun—and wine—into preparing home-cooked meals. Here is one of Torres’s favorite Uruguayan dishes.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 7 ounces bacon, cubed
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup tomato purée
- ½ cup red wine (Uruguayan Tannat, or another medium-bodied young red)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1¾ cups lentils, presoaked and drained
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 2 slices day-old white bread soaked in ¾ cup milk (optional)
- Fresh parsley, to taste
- 6 small eggs
- Sea salt, to taste
In a large casserole, heat the olive oil, add the bacon and cook until the fatty part of the bacon renders completely. Add the onion, red pepper and garlic, and cook until tender, but not brown, about 5 minutes. If the bacon is lean, add more oil.
When the vegetables are soft, add the tomato purée. If tomatoes are in-season, you can use 3 medium-sized, freshly chopped tomatoes to purée. Add the red wine, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, paprika and black pepper. Cook for several minutes, until the wine is reduced.
Add the lentils and the stock and cook covered for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Add in the shredded carrot and cook uncovered for 15 more minutes. Remove all the herbs, stalks and leaves.
For a creamier result, add pieces of the day-old white bread soaked in milk until stew reaches desired consistency.
To finish the dish, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place a serving of lentil stew in 6 individual ovenproof bowls or ramekins. Sprinkle each with chopped parsley, then break an egg over each portion. Place the bowls in the oven and bake for about 5 minutes, allowing the egg to cook to medium, but not harder. Sprinkle the egg with sea salt and more black pepper before serving. Serves 6.
Cook with—and drink—Artesana’s 2011 Tannat-Merlot blend (87 points; $29) from Canelones, Uruguay’s most traditional winemaking region. This hearty, leather-inflected wine delivers lots of dark-fruit character, ideal to accompany a robust stew such as this.