All week I've been thinking about making brown rice risotto. I thought about it again last night. But brown rice takes so much longer to cook than white rice. But I didn't want to use traditional arborio rice. But it was late and I was tired. But. . . but . . . In the end, I didn't use rice at all. I used farro (emmer wheat).
|"Hers" farro risotto|
I'd not had farro before. The small package I had was sitting patiently in the pantry for some time, waiting for me to figure out what to do with it. The more I thought about it, the more I was excited to use it. Reading the packag directions (not followed, of course), it didn't seem as though it would take any longer to cook than traditional Arborio rice.
A quick inventory of the vegetable bin gave me some other ideas. I could see the last of the kale was trying to be pathetic, and there was that little bag of squash I'd taken out of the freezer for another purpose and then didn't use it. Farro risotto with bacon, kale and squash. It sounded great to me. But then there's Tug. The man seems to have deeply held conviction that orange vegetables (excepting raw carrots) are the anti-christs of the food world. The solution to this was to make the risotto as I normally would, without the squash, remove a portion for him, then add the squash to the rest for me: his and hers risotto. Is this what feeding children is like?
I used volume instead of weight on this recipe because it was a "throw it in the pan and see what happens" kind of thing. The amounts of some ingredients are approximations, but risotto is forgiving.
4 slices thick cut bacon, diced
1 – 1-1/2 quarts stock, preferably homemade (I had some awesome prosciutto stock I’d made)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1-1/4 cups farro
1 Tbs dry sherry (optional)
1-1/2 cups chopped, stemmed kale (I like Lacinto)
1 cup squash or pumpkin puree (mine was Blue Hubbard)
1-1/2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Add the bacon to a cold, large skillet and render the it over medium/medium low heat. While the bacon is cooking, heat the stock over medium heat until simmering. Reduce the heat and keep hot. When the bacon bits are crispy, remove them to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Remove all but about two tablespoons of the bacon grease.
Add the onions; cook and stir until translucent. Add the farro and stir to coat well with the fat. Add the sherry, if using, stirring well to combine and scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Begin adding the stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring frequently after each addition. Wait until the stock is almost completely absorbed (but the farro is never dry on top) before adding the next ladleful.
After repeating this procedure for about 15 minutes, sample the farro for doneness. (I cooked mine until it was softened, but still had a little bit of chew.) Add the chopped kale to the pan and pour a ladleful of stock over it to wilt slightly then stir the kale into the risotto. Stir in the squash puree and one cup of the grated cheese. Reduce the heat to medium low to heat the kale and squash thoroughly. Add a little more stock if the risotto appears dry instead of creamy. Serve with the remaining grated cheese.
This recipe could easily be meatless by omitting the bacon and using olive oil to sauté the onions and toast the farro.