Farrotto.


“I wonder if Whole Foods has any interesting mushrooms,” I found myself wondering one afternoon.  This is not a normal thought for me.  This is, in fact, a rather abnormal thought for me.  But with the wif away, it seemed like a perfect time to go absolutely wild…and try cooking mushrooms.  Although I’ve been trying to cook without recipes lately, I admit I did a little research on how to cook mushrooms because I’ve never cooked them before.  I found many recipes for “shiitake bacon,” which seemed like a relatively tasty way to cook an ingredient I’ve never been particularly fond of in the past.  I decided to make a variation of a dish I’d recently learned using farro as a base, but cooked “risotto-style.”  I picked up some kale, broccoli, the aforementioned shiitakes, carrots and goat cheese and headed home to put them all together, still without a very clear plan of how that was going to go down.

Although this is a pretty simple dish in the end, I ended up using one small saute pan, one cast-iron skillet, and one pot to get it done.  First, I filled the pot with water and set it to boiling while I chopped the broccoli into florets, tore up the kale into smaller pieces, and used a peeler to cut long ribbons of carrot (running the peeler down the length of the carrot).  In a large saute pan, I started dry toasting the farro.  Now, here’s what I meant by risotto-style farro.  Instead of cooking the farro grains in a pot of water, ladle the boiling water into the saute pan, enough to just cover the grains.  Like the arborio rice in a traditional risotto, the farro grains will gradually soak up the water.  All you have to do is stir occasionally and keep adding water until the grains are cooked.  Unlike traditional risotto, you really don’t need to constantly stir the grains, but I also would keep an eye on it.  I added a blend of curry powder and Turkish Seasoning to the water to season the grains.  Be sure to taste often to make sure your seasoning is where you want it throughout the cooking.  I don’t know of a great way to know when farro is cooked other than…it tastes cooked in terms of chewiness.  I’m certain there’s Googlable answer to this, but I’ll always go by the taste test anyway.

In the small stainless saute, I heated some olive oil then, once hot, added the sliced mushrooms along with the same seasoning I used for the farro.  It’s important to keep stirring the mushrooms because they’ll stick on you if you let them be.  My goal was to really brown the mushrooms, getting a great texture in the process.  I was going for something close to crispy when they were done.

While the mushrooms were cooking, I heated up some olive oil in the cast iron skillet, adding the broccoli first then, when they started to soften, the carrots next.  Again, I seasoned everything using the same curry and Turkish seasoning, tasting all along the way.  When the broccoli and carrots were nearing completion, I added the mushrooms in, then, finally the kale to quickly wilt.  On a whim, I removed the vegetables from the skillet then deglazed the skillet with some hard cider, scraping up all the browned bits using a wooden spoon.

All that remained was to plate it all up, at which point I stirred in a rather generous helping of goat cheese to add some creaminess (you’ll notice goat cheese appears often in my cooking) and then wolf it down!

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I hope you find some inspiration from this and make your own delicious meal!

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