Sunday, March 20, 2011

Farro in Parmesan Brodo

A couple of weeks ago Mr. Ripe and I had house guests. On their second night with us, I insisted we feast. The menu was inspired by my recent falling back in love with the charming Jamie Oliver, having borrowed his book on Italian cooking from the local library. The theme of his book and of our dinner was very simple food, made with simple ingredients. The results were phenomenal. We marinated chicken overnight in Chianti for Chicken Cacciatore, and made Jamie's Italian beans (our version was simply cooked white beans in water with herbs on hand and veggies, sort of in a light stock, then tossed with olive oil). We also did a quick field greens salad and, upon remembering a flavorful side dish I once had at a restaurant here in Brooklyn, I could not abandon my instinct to make a similar farro side.
I have never cooked farro before, but it is a great hearty grain to use. It looks like a wheat berry, but it doesn't need to soak overnight in order to cook. In this way, it's much more versatile and easy to use, a perfect fit for my whim.
I started by toasting onion in olive oil, and then toasted the farro in there as well. I then used a very rich chicken stock (although vegetarian can be substituted) leftover from weeks prior, which I had frozen into ice cubes for easy access at just a time like this, as my cooking liquid. When the farro was cooked through, softened but still with a light chew, we added about 1 1/2 c parmesan. The idea is to go for a brothy batch of farro, so the grain is cooked, but it is served in quite a bit of rich parmesan chicken brodo. It is quite rich, but a delightful side dish if you require extra whole grains in your meal.
I definitely recommend this one- it's so easy, there is no reason not to try it!
Farro in Parmesan Brodo
1 - 2 T Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 c farro
1 t salt
6 c chicken stock (or water, or vegetable stock)
1 1/2 - 2 c grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper and salt, to taste

With olive oil in medium saucepan, turn heat to medium, and add onion. Cook until translucent. Add farro, and toast, 2-3 minutes. Add salt and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer until still chewy but tender, 40-50 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, pepper, and salt. Serve farro with its broth.

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