So we live in Hamilton. For those who are familiar with Ontario, Canada, that’s less than an hour drive from Niagara-on-the-Lake, aka the Napa Valley of Canada. The Niagara region is best known for Niagara Falls, but we mostly drive over for the world-famous Niagara wineries.
And what a perfect excuse to visit the Niagara region when it’s the annual Icewine Festival!! Well, obviously we don’t need an excuse for a weekend of wine tasting. We aren’t alcoholics, never mind wine-addicts, right?
Anywho, we went to more than a handful of wineries over two days. Let me count them now. Day one (in chronological order): Mike Weir Winery, Fielding Estate Winery, Legends Estates Winery, Malivoire Wine Company, Tawse Winery, and Flat Rock Cellars. Phewww, that was a few. :p All these wineries were in the Twenty Valley region.
We stayed overnight at the Princes of Wales (spectacular hotel and restaurant!), then started our day 2 at Niagara-on-the-Lake with Peller Estates Winery, Reif Estate Winery (quite an disappointment, in both their service and wine), Inniskillin Winery, Stratus Vineyards, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery, Konzelmann Estate Winery (we got a lovely winery tour as part of our hotel stay!), Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, Chateau des Charmes, Colaneri Estate Winery and lastly the Niagara College Teaching Winery.
Okay, we are really, really proud of our Niagara wines 😀
I could go on and on about each winery, but we aren’t wine snobs nor sommeliers (although we often dream about being sommeliers).
In any case, after a weekend of drinking and gourmet food pairing, we are going through some serious withdrawals. Since I’m not allowed to have wine pairings with my lunch at work, the next best thing is to cook with wine!!
I have given this blog post a lot of (mostly sober) thought! I was sincerely debating between red wine oxtail stew or red wine braised short ribs. But this humble lentil stew came to my mind from nowhere. I tried it and feel like I must share this simple, yet flavorful recipe with you all!
May this stew warm up your cold stomach in these wintery Canadian days! 🙂
Red Wine Lentil Stew
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 50 mins
Serves: 6 – 8 people
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 150g Spanish chorizo sausage, skinned & diced
- 1 medium purple onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup each diced carrots & diced celery (your aromatic vegetables)
- 2 cups lentils, washed & drained (I used mixed lentils)
- 1 cup dry red wine (Cabernets/Bordeaux-style blends work here)
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 of each Cara orange, mandarin and grapefruit, peeled & sliced
- 1 tablespoon chili flakes (give that extra kick of flavour)
- Freshly ground pepper and sea salt to taste
- 4 springs coarsely chopped dill
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onion until soft & caramelized (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and chili flakes, cook until fragrant. Add the carrots and celery and sauté for another 5 – 8 minutes until soft.
- Sauté the chorizo until oil comes out of chorizo or until just browned on all sides.
- Add the lentils to the pot and stir well before adding the wine. Simmer over medium to high heat for about 3 minutes until most of alcohol has evaporated.
- Pour in approximately 3 cups of chicken stock, bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Add more chicken stock as the stew thickens up; I ended up using about 4 cups.
- Cover the pot, cook until the lentils are tender and slightly mushy. Stir occasionally, for about 45 to 50 minutes.
- Gently stir in the sliced citrus fruits before removing the pot from heat, and sprinkle the dill.
- Add more cayenne pepper if you like it extra HOT and drizzle more olive oil on top!
- Bon appétit!