12 August 2006
Farro semiperlato - a type of "spelt" risotto, and successful experiment
This risked being a high-fibre, low fat, nearly veggie meal, so we accompanied with a bottle of Berry's Good Ordinary Claret to level things up.
While looking for something else, I saw an interesting picture in a recipe book, and thought it might be nice to make something with barley-type grains in. This was followed by a rare trip to Sainsbury's, where I picked up a packet of something called farro semiperlato in their special selection, thinking it was pearl barley. Of course, it wasn't pearl barley, nor does it seem to be spelt, although often translated as such (see Food of the Legions http://italianfood.about.com/library/rec/blr0002.htm). And there's no sign of the interesting recipe I wanted to do!
So I followed the instructions for Farro all'antica on the back of the packet:
200g farro, olive oil, 100g minced meat (beef in this case), celery, carrot, onion, salt, pepper, diced tomatoes, meat broth, parmesan cheese. Fry the finely chopped vegetables together with the minced meat and season with oil, salt and pepper, add the tomato and cook for 15 minutes. Put the farro in cold water and bring to boil for 10 minutes. Drain and add to the meat sauce, cook for 20 minutes, adding broth if necessary.
The farro needed rinsing after boiling, as there was some starch scum, and I found I needed to add quite a bit of stock, ending up with some risotto-type results. Having not twigged it was going to be risotto, I hadn't put enough effort into the beef-stock-from-a-bottle, so added a smidgeon of worcester sauce and mushroom ketchup. I also added a bayleaf and some parsley.
The result was very pleasant. The grain has an interesting meaty texture, which doesn't break up on cooking, and had a decent but not outstanding flavour. Apparently it's terribly good for you, so we could feel very smug.
It tastes good cold, too. We might serve the leftovers as an accompaniment to sardines. Or it will reheat or freeze much more successfully than risotto.
Posted by MildredWithTwins at 11:03 am