Tuesday, January 31, 2012

the best meal veronica probably won't make again

For this week's farro challenge I wanted to make something I saw a Top Cheftestant cook many seasons ago: farrotto. I think that is a stupid word, but since I'm a fan of both risotto and farro, I decided to try it anyway.

After taking an inventory of my foods and scouring the internet, I chose to prepare farro risotto with kale and roasted acorn squash.

Even though the dish was very delicious I doubt I'll ever make it again. It took SO long to cook, I thought I would pass out from hunger! Basically, you have to a) peel/chop/roast an acorn squash, b) boil water and blanch some kale, c) season and roast farro, d) chop aromatics, and, finally - ha! - e) cook the farro in a risotto-like fashion. I'd say it took me about an hour and a half to get to step (e) and then about an hour to stand around like a chump, ladling broth into the cooking farro.

Once the farro(tto) was cooked, I added all the other prepped components and tossed around with some nice parmesan and butter. Boom, finally. And for all my wah-wah-ing, it really was very delicious.

I think it's a bit of a stretch to call it farro risotto, though. Risotto calls to mind that beautiful starchy-creamy business that make great risottos great. Farro doesn't really bleed much of its starchiness, so in the end this dish relies on butter and cheese to mimic that texture. And while it was tasty, it was definitely not risotto. Two days later, though, I would come to appreciate this.

Risotto doesn't keep well. That starchy-creamy whatever just gets all gelatinous and nasty. This is apparently not an issue with farrotto. For brunch a couple of days later I heated up the little I had left over and dropped a poached egg on top. I am a genius!

Getting two excellent meals out of this dish almost makes up for all the time spent making it. Almost.

Farro, finally

The first time our assignment was to cook with farro, I had a terribly unsuccessful time of actually finding it, although turns out Whole Foods has been carrying it this whole time! Farro’s not as imposing as i thought - it just needs some soaking. I was worried a little, though I think I was mostly having a Thomas Keller-induced flashback of having to have so many ingredients and to complete so many steps. This recipe was pretty straightforward, so I kind of feel like it doesn’t count! I didn’t even have to make a sachet!!

I had somewhat unbeknownst to me, picked the day of that Patriots-whoever they beat play off game to make the farro. The football watchers at my apartment that day do not cook at all, so my flimsy excuse to not watch the game with them went over well. [“Sorry guys- can't watch the Pats, I'm COOKING!” “ooohhhhh, man, Jamie, we’ll leave you alone!” phew!] Even though most of the time I was futzing around online while the farro soaked in water.

Anyway, three quarters of a football game later, the results we immensely satisfying. I am an official Farro Believer, now, and will cook with it more (as long as I can plan ahead to have enough time to let it soak). Even though the recipe was pretty summer-y, it worked on that kind of dreary football-y day.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Raku: Farro Casserole

I found a recipe for a nice-sounding cabbage casserole.

Yes, it included heavy cream, most of a stick of butter, and half a pound of cheese, but soooo healthy aside from that... Still my conscience was pricking me, so I decided to make some substitutions - a lot less butter  in exchange for a little olive oil, milk mixed in with the heavy cream. I let the cheese stand, since a lady's got to have standards. While I was being so wonderfully inventive, I replaced the rice in the recipe with farro. Why not?

This was a mistake. The resulting dish looked kind of cute while in the pyrex, but it was a (hot) mess out of it. Way too much liquid! The rice that should have soaked it all up had been replaced (by some fool) for farro. All in the name of laziness (couldn't go to the store to buy rice) and health (this will be the death of me). Oh well. The flavor wasn't bad, so I'll probably try it again. But next time I'll go true-to-recipe or go home.