Lentil Stew with Cepes, Pumpkin, and Quail

Metric version of recipe

Yields 8 portions

Ingredient Amount
For the quail legs  
Quail legs 16 ea.
Salt 1 tsp.
Black pepper, freshly ground ¼ tsp.
Garlic, chopped 1 tsp.
Flat-leaf parsley, chopped 3 Tbsp.
Olive oil, extra virgin 4 cups
Thyme sprigs 3 ea.
For the lentils  
Olive oil, extra virgin ¼ cup
Serrano ham, small-dice, tightly packed ½ cup
Leeks, small-dice ½ cup
Onions, small-dice 1 cup
Garlic cloves, slivered 1 Tbsp.
Pumpkin, peeled, medium-dice, or other winter squash (such as butternut) 2-3/4 cups
Brown lentils, dried, rinsed and soaked for 30 minutes in water to cover 1-1/2 cups
Bay leaf, small 1 ea.
Thyme sprigs 3 ea.
Salt 1-1/2 tsp.
Black pepper, freshly ground ½ tsp.
Sherry vinegar 4 tsp.
For the mushrooms  
Onions, small-dice ½ cup
Garlic, finely chopped 1 tsp.
Olive oil, extra virgin, divided use 5 cups
Creminis, cleaned and caps separated from stems 12 oz.
Porchini mushrooms, dried, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, then drained 1-1/2 oz.
Flat-leaf parsley, divided use, chopped 4 Tbsp.


  1. Prepare the quail legs. Remove the thigh bone, if desired, and chop off the tip of the leg bone closest to the foot. Season with the salt, pepper, garlic, and parsley. If you removed the thigh bone, fold the thigh over the tip of the leg bone, piercing it to secure it. Place in a medium sauté pan or saucepan and cover with the oil. Add the thyme. Warm the oil to 156°F and confit the quail legs for 2 hours, or until tender. Reserve in the oil.
  2. Cook the lentils while the quail legs confit. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, and add the Serrano ham. Cook for 3 minutes, until some of the ham fat has been rendered, then add the leeks, onions, and garlic. Cook gently for 5 minutes, stirring often, until they are tender and the onion begins to brown. Stir in the pumpkin, lentils, bay leaf, and thyme and cover with 5 cups of water. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 40 or 50 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Add the salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Remove the bay leaf and thyme; set the stew aside or refrigerate for up to 4 days.
  3. Prepare the mushrooms. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the onions and garlic in an ovenproof casserole or baking dish large enough to accommodate the mushrooms. Toss the onions and garlic with ¼ cup of oil and warm in the oven for 10 minutes, or until hot. Add the cremini mushroom caps and porcinis and enough oil to cover and add enough oil to cover (about 1 ½ cups). Place the stems in another similar size baking dish and add enough oil to cover (about 1 ½ cups). Place both baking dishes in the oven and bake the caps for 25 minutes and the stems for 45 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley and toss together. Remove from the oven and let cool in the oil in the pan.
  4. Drain the mushroom caps and stems in a large colander, then cut them into medium dice and reserve in the oil. Warm the lentils over medium heat, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with 4 tablespoons of sherry vinegar, or more or less to taste. Warm the mushrooms in a large sauté pan. Remove them from the olive oil with a strainer. Remove the quail legs from the oil and gently fry in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat until the skin is crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Spoon 1 cup of the lentils into each bowl and top with 1/3 cup of the mushrooms and 2 quail legs. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the mushroom confit oil over the mushrooms and lentils. Top with 1 teaspoon of chopped parsley and serve.

Additional tips

Recipe credit: Gabino Sotelino, as presented at the Worlds of Flavor International Conference & Festival. Published with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Presented at the World Marketplace on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2006.

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