Monday, February 04, 2008

Farro risotto with cremini mushrooms

Farro is a type of Italian wheat--it is very long and elegant looking with a distinct nutty flavor. It remains firm after cooking, unlike wheat berries or spelt, and this texture makes it particularly enjoyable. I had never seen it just hanging out on store shelves before but last week I found it at the DeKalb market and so picked some up to try making it at home myself. Because it has a very hard exterior, you are supposed to soak it before cooking, so if you remember, do that. I of course did not remember, but it turned out OK. This is cooked like a risotto, but unlike a real risotto it doesn't get super creamy. It is, however, incredibly delicious.

Rinse well 1 cup of farro and boil it in about 8 cups water for 30 minutes. Drain the farro and set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 package of sliced cremini mushrooms and sauté until they are golden, about 8-10 minutes. Add 1 clove minced garlic (or 2 minced shallots instead would be tasty if you have them, which I did not) and continue to sauté 1 minute. Add in the preboiled farro and 1 cup white wine. Simmer until almost all liquid evaporates, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add in a total of 2 cups chicken stock; stir the liquid in slowly, ½ cup at a time, simmering until each ½ cup addition of liquid is absorbed. Do this until all 2 cups are added in and the farro is tender, which will take about 15 minutes. At the end, if you like, stir in a couple tablespoons of parmesan cheese and a little more butter, plus salt and pepper.

We also had these great sirloin steaks that Melanie's parents had sent them around Christmastime. Mel's parents are very smart--they know the best gift of all is a freezer full of meat. I made a port wine sauce for the steaks--pretty much just 3 tablespoons melted butter with 1 clove minced garlic, then add a cup of port and bring it to a simmer, then add in 1 cup chicken stock (better with beef stock but I didn't have any) and then boiled until it all reduced down to 1 cup and got thick. We also had roasted green beans, mostly because I wanted to try making a vinagrette with this hazelnut oil I'd purchased. Hazelnut oil is amazing. It smells fantastic and the flavor is delicate yet full at the same time. I roasted a pound of trimmed green beans in a 425 oven for 8-10 minutes until they were bright green but with a few caramel patches on them. Then, while they were still hot, tossed the beans in a vinagrette made with 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar, 3 tablespoons hazelnut oil, 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard, salt and pepper. It was great.

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