Adas Pollo (Lentil Rice)

1 lb. boneless veal or beef, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 package lentils
1/3 cup shortening
3 cups rice
1/2 cup butter

Clean and wash the lentils.  Put them in a 2 quart pot.  Add enough water until it is 1 inch above the lentils.  Cook until tender.  Drain off the water, cover and set aside.  

Fry the onions and meat together until they are browned.  Add 2 cup of water and simmer until the meat is so tender that it is beginning to fall apart and the water is almost all absorbed.  Set aside.

Clean, wash (cold water) and drain the rice. In a large pot bring the water and salt to a full, rolling boil. Add the drained rice, stir well and let cook about 10 minutes.  Stir once in a while to prevent sticking, and frequently test a grain of rice to see if it has reached the semi-cooked stage.  There are two ways to tell when the rice is semi-cooked.  The first is by looking at a grain of rice – the outer edges seem transparent while the inner core is white.  The second is by mashing a grain between two fingers – the outside mashes and the inside remains hard.

Immediately pour the semi-cooked rice into a large strainer, pour 2 glasses of cold water over it and let it stand and drain. Melt the butter in the same pot that was used to cook the rice.  Pour out approximately half the melted butter into a small bowl and add two tablespoons of water to it.

Put the pot back on a high fire and when the remaining butter starts to bubble add 1/3 of the rice and smooth it out. Add 1/3  of the meat and 1/3 of the lentils. Continue layering until the rice is finished.  End with a lentil-meat layer on top. Pour the butter-water mixture evenly over the top.

Place the pot cover on a clean, absorbent, terry towel and wrap the towel around it.  Be cautious that there are no loose ends to catch fire.  Wrapping the lid prevents excess moisture and, therefore, keeps an even cooking temperature.  Put the wrapped lid on the pot.  Cook the chello on a medium fire for l0 – 15 minutes.  Then make the fire low and let cook for about 30 – 35 minutes longer. 

To loosen the crust, place the pot in cold water for a few minutes.  Remove.  Spoon the rice onto a serving platter and place pieces of the crust on top, or serve the crust separately and sprinkle colorful saffron rice on top.  To make saffron rice – mix 1 teaspoon powdered saffron with 1 tablespoon water and add 1 cooking-spoonful of cooked rice.  Stir well and use for decoration.

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