Since I raved about farro so much in my last post, I thought it would be a good idea to share this cleverly named recipe (for which I can take no credit; I learned how to make it at Cook Street School of Fine Cooking). It’s hard to describe how good this is. It’s very much like risotto in terms of being comforting and creamy and very satisfying, but it’s even better because the farro has such a great chewy texture and slightly more interesting taste, plus it’s more nutritious because of farro’s status as a high-protein whole grain.
So far, I’ve made this twice, and it’s really hard to screw up. It does take some time, but for most of that time, you’re just stirring and tasting, which is pretty enjoyable and possible to do while you’re helping with math facts or religion homework. You don’t have to stir it constantly — I actually think that’s a myth about risotto in general; in order to force the starch out of the grains, you really only need to stir “frequently.”
Think of this basic recipe as a starting point; to it you can add anything you would add to risotto — any combination of peas, asparagus, chicken, shrimp, and mushrooms would be great. But it’s also delicious just like this.
I won’t promise your kids will like it, but mine asked for seconds.
4 tbs. unsalted butter or oil
4 shallots or 2 leeks, very finely diced (should be about the same size as the farro grains)
2 cups farro (I doubled this)
2 cups dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
4-6 cups chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
salt & pepper
grated cheese (Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, or Grana Padana or a combination)
2 oz. creme fraiche (optional, I skipped this)
In a large pot, heat 4 tbs. of the butter without browning. When it’s hot, add the shallots (or leeks) and a pinch of salt. Saute 1-2 minutes until the shallots soften. Rinse the farro in a fine strainer. Add the farro to the pot and toss to coat with the butter. Being careful not to brown the grains, cook the farro in the butter until it begins to smell nutty (5-10 mins.). Turn the heat to high, add the wine (I used 4 cups because I doubled the farro), and cook until it evaporates completely. Reduce heat to low. Add the stock by the ladleful to cover the farro. Stirring often (every 5 minutes or so, really you’re just trying to force the starch out of the grains), allow the broth to reduce by half, replenish the liquid, and add another pinch of salt. Cook the farro slowly, replenishing the liquid as needed to the level of the grains in the pot (even though I doubled the amount of farro, I didn’t need to double the broth; I think I used about 6 cups total plus 1/2 cup of water at the end), until the grains are al dente. The grains should be chewy and distinct, not cooked to mush. The finished dish should have a small amount of saucy liquid. Check the salt and adjust if needed. Finish with grated cheese and creme fraiche (or not). Garnish with fresh ground pepper (or not if you have a pepper hater in the family like I do).
Serve with dinner, or as dinner. Or breakfast. Or lunch.