A relatively new grape from Oregon, Merlot grows in the southern part of the state where the climate remains a little warmer during the growing season. Merlot gives this recipe earthy tones that makes for a great autumn entrée. Adding bacon to the lentils would bring out the Merlota delicious match with smoked meats of any kind.
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3/4 cup olive oil
1 small fennel bulb, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 small celery, finely diced
1 cup Le Puy lentils (7 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 cups Merlot
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Two 1-pound pork tenderloins, well trimmed and halved crosswise
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground fennel
How to Make It
In a heavy medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the diced fennel, onion, carrot and celery and cook over moderately high heat until the onion is softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils and stir to coat with the oil. Add 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover partially and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°. In a medium saucepan, boil the wine until reduced to 6 tablespoons, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the vinegar, 1/2 cup of the oil, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Add the vinaigrette to the lentils and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Season the meat with salt and pepper and rub with the ground cumin and fennel. Put the pork in the hot skillet and sear until well browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Let the pork stand, covered, for 5 minutes, then slice and serve on top of the lentils.
The lentils can be cooked up to 4 hours ahead. Reheat before serving.
Eola Hills Wine Cellars Reserve Applegate Valley Merlot is a smooth, soft and polished wine from vineyards primarily in the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon. Its ripe boysenberry flavor, balanced by herbal and spice components typical of Merlots from the area, is a good foil for the lentils and spices.
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