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Collard Greens and Lentils

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion -- diced
1/4 pound bacon -- cut thin strips
1 pound collard greens or mixed collard and mustard greens -- deribbed, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup green Le Puy lentils or other lentils
Salt -- to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper -- to taste
Balsamic vinegar -- as needed


Heat the oven to 250 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or ovenproof pot and sauté the onion over medium heat until it becomes translucent and begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the bacon and cook until it softens, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and remove any excess oil by patting the bacon and onion with a paper towel.


Return the pot to the heat and add half the greens. This will fill the pot, but as you cook, stirring frequently, the leaves will wilt and shrink. When there is enough room, add the remaining greens and the chicken stock. Stir to mix evenly.


Cover the pot and place it in the oven to cook until the greens are well stewed and deeply fragrant, about 1 1/2 hours.


Add the lentils, stir, cover and return the pot to the oven until the lentils are tender but still a little chewy, about 40 to 45 minutes.


Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Taste and add a little more vinegar if necessary. Serve immediately.


This recipe yields 6 servings.


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