"Losing My Religon" was playing in the car for the third time that week. Funny enough, I hadn't heard the song in almost 20 years and now I'd heard it for the 3rd time that week. It felt strange. I sent a text to a friend that said "Losing My Religion is a fabulous song. I hadn't heard it in years and forgot how much I love it. It's definitely one of my all time favorites." She replied back, "Great song. Definitely a top favorite, but I never knew what it was really about. It has to mean something that you keep hearing it so much this week, yet you haven't heard it in years. I'm gonna look it up."
At first I didn't really believe that hearing the song so many times in one week meant anything, but I did want to know what the song was about. When she wrote back "Losing My Religion is a southern expression for losing one's civility or temper and/or being at the end of one's rope," it all suddenly made sense. If you've read my past two posts then you know that I've definitely been at the end of my rope lately.
Problem is, after exchanging those texts with her, things just seemed to get worse. More 12 hour work days, sick kids, doctor visits, football games, band concerts, probate issues, and issue upon issue compounded to the max, all building up to the anniversary of my mom's death. It weighs on you. You do what you can and then you reach a breaking point where you just throw your hands up in the air and let it all go.
I'm all done with letting it overwhelm me. I'm too busy playing my new theme song, "Losing My Religon" and getting back in the kitchen. I swear the kitchen is like therapy. This week instead of saying "I just can't," I just did. I made Chicken Paprikash, which is something I'd been wanting to try, and I even got around to making this chili, and guess what? I even enjoyed it!
Giada's Lentil and Hominy Chili is a vegetarian delight. The lentils really make this chili hearty and comforting, and the hominy, well, I just love that stuff. It's fragrant, it's chewy, it just pops in your mouth and it's just plain fun to eat. I have NO idea why it's not more popular. However, I do feel like what makes this chili are the toppings, especially the lime juice. The squeeze of lime really brightens things up and brings all the flavors together. The avocado adds a lovely creamy quality and the cilantro...well I just love that too. The cotija cheese is the only topping that I felt kind of blah about. I could take it or leave it. Honestly, this chili is about the only chili that doesn't need cheese. Make it and try it for yourself. It's a delicious bowl of comfort, whether you're losing your religion, or not!
Lentil & Hominy Chili
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno, ribs removed and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup lentils, picked through, soaked and rinsed *
1-1/2 cups brown ale, such as Turbodog
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
One 15-ounce can hominy, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
lime wedges, optional*
*Note (Soaking Your Lentils): You will need to soak your lentils before you start cooking. To do so, place the picked-through lentils in a fine mesh strainer and rinse them well. Place them in a medium bowl and cover them with water so they are fully submerged by 1 inch of water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 14 hours. Drain and rinse the lentils again before using. OR, you can do like the video online indicates and soak your lentils in a bowl of water for 25 minutes, which is what I did.
*Note: You do not want to skip the lime juice in this recipe. The squeeze of lime is what brightens up the flavors and brings it all together.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the oil and diced onion. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic, jalapeno, yellow and red peppers and continue to cook, stirring often, for an additional 4 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, and salt and stir until the mixture is fragrant. Add the lentils, beer, tomatoes, and 1-1/4 cup water and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and simmer for 25 minutes. Uncover the chili and add the hominy. Continue to cook uncovered until the chili has thickened slightly and the lentils are cooked through, about 15 minutes more. Serve topped with the cilantro, avocado, and cotija cheese. Finish with a squeeze of lime if desired.