Olivia Dish

So, Farro? So Good.

In Homemade, South Carolina on June 23, 2010 at 8:46 am
piccolo farro

Piccolo Farro

Last Saturday at the farmers’ market, I picked up the bag of piccolo farro as an afterthought.  I’d planned to buy Anson Mills oats and popcorn, both excellent.  The cute 11-year-old girl at the table tried to sell me some grits too, but I have a rather large bag of those in my freezer.

“Maybe I’ll try this,” I said, picking up the white-paper-wrapped package of farro.

“Everyone seems to like it except me,” the girl said, “ but I’m more of a pop tart person.”  Poor little one.  I proceeded to give her detailed instructions for making homemade blueberry tarts that taste even better than pop tarts, I promised.  She listened politely, even thanked me (though I suppose she was mostly just thankful when the spiel ended). So of course, I had to buy the farro.

Good, I suppose, that I am a blueberry-tart-recipe-spouting bore, since farro is fantastic. Who knew?  Maybe you did.  I’m sure plenty of people do.

And yet….try to find consensus on what farro is and you’ll start to wonder what anyone knows about it.  Is it spelt? Something else?

This much seems true:  farro is an ancient thing that poor people have eaten for centuries in Italy. It’s not a wheat variation or wheat byproduct, though some people will compare it to wheat berries.  It’s a grain all its own.

According to an article (written 10 years ago) in the New York Times, farro is potentially the health food for these gluten-fearing times: “Farro is rich in fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, B, C and E. Because it is so easily digested and so low in gluten, farro can often be eaten by people who are normally gluten-intolerant.”

Caw Caw Creek bacon

Start with a bit of really good bacon.

There are several types of farro, each requiring a slightly different cooking process. I bought farro piccolo, which yes, is small—and cooks quickly.  No overnight soaking required.

I followed a recipe on the Anson Mills website as a guide, but instead of the ingredients they recommended, I used the food I had on hand.  Here’s how it all came together:

I simmered 1/2 cup of Piccolo Farro in 2 cups of salted water for 20 minutes, then set aside to cool.

piccolo farro

Quick, a photo, before I gobble down the rest.

Meanwhile, in a saucier I browned one strip of thick-slab, excellent bacon that I’d cut into tiny cubes.  Once the bacon had crisped a bit and the fat had rendered, I added some chopped Palmetto Sweet onion and chopped fresh carrots from the market.  I sautéed those until the onion was translucent.  While that stuff cooked, I cut fresh corn from two cobs.  When the farro was ready (about 30 minutes after I started cooking it) I poured it, liquid and all, plus the corn into the saucier.  This I simmered for about 3 minutes more, added a tablespoon of heavy cream, and heated it through for a minute or two.

Then I ate the entire pot.  By myself.  For one meal.  It was just that unbelievably good.

I understand that you can make a risotto using piccolo farro and I’m tempted.  But I have to say, when you can put the above ingredients in a pot, stir it a bit, and come up with something that delicious, it’s hard to convince yourself to try anything else.

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