Sheesh, this has been a crazy month. It’s been so long since I’ve posted here I haven’t the slightest idea where to start. There was a trip to Orcas Island to scatter my grandparents’ ashes, immediately followed by a trip to Kansas City for a memorial service for my mother-in-law. A few great dinners with friends at which I took no pictures because it seemed too much like work, and a few meals cooked at home in between various outings. I definitely have some great stuff to post here but my brain doesn’t seem to working in a straight line (the 90 degree heat may have something to do with that). How about I start with our last supper club event?
The theme was Tuscan family dinner. It was a lovely evening on Birch Bay, and we started with a bocce tournament, at which Jon and I stomped everyone until the very last game where we were soundly defeated. I have seldom met a sport better suited for playing while holding a glass of wine in one hand. The only downside of winning so many games is that we hardly had any opportunity to help eat the wonderful prosciutto and steamed artichokes that Jenise put out for antipasti. Continue reading
So when we were at the Stumbling Goat the other night, one of the entrees I was eyeballing consisted of duck breast served with Bluebird Farms farro and rhubarb. I thought that sounded swell, but also rather like something I could make at home. So, the following night, I made it at home. More or less.
We didn’t have any duck, but I did have a package of chicken thighs left over from a Gretchen’s class last week. I roasted them with a sprinkling of herbed salt. I did, in fact, have Bluebird Farms farro (fantastic stuff, so nutty and chewy), which I simmered in salted water, then drained and tossed with chopped sage and orange zest. For the rhubarb, I improvised, cutting it into medium pieces, tossing them with olive oil and a bit of salt, and roasting them in the 400° oven with the chicken for about twenty minutes. The rhubarb softened but began to caramelize a bit near the end – I was very careful not to touch the pieces for fear they’d fall apart. When I took the pan out of the oven I sprinkled a bit of brown sugar on top, then balsamic vinegar over it all. I used a large spoon to carefully lift the pieces out of the pan onto our plates, along with the mixed juices.
The dinner worked really nicely – the chicken had some of the crispest skin I’ve ever achieved (not sure why), the farro was delicious, and the rhubarb was soft and both tart and sweet, going great with the chicken and the farro. Next time for the rhubarb I think we’ll use white sugar instead of brown (my husband said he felt like he was eating a rhubarb crisp with dinner) and lots more vinegar, but we’ll definitely do this again.
The way I decided to make this was typical: I had found a new (to me) cookbook at the local used bookstore, and bought it partly because it included a number of recipes for farro. I decided I would make one of the recipes this week, but as I was scanning them I was suddenly reminded of a dish in The Italian Country Table that I had been intrigued by. So I made that instead. I’m easily derailed when it comes to menu planning.
I thought this was a cool recipe, pairing the sweet taste of farro with bright orange zest and fresh herbs, and chickpeas for added flavor and texture. It made a nice change from the cream and mushrooms often used in farro dishes. We had it alongside a roast chicken and a chunky beet salad (which went great with the orange in the farro).
I’ve eaten farro three times this week, and I’m still excited about it – not bad. I’d only eaten it a couple times before, and thought it was really swell, but only recently bought some at the Spanish Table in Seattle. Last weekend at the farmer’s market we got a bunch more fresh oyster mushrooms, which I thought would go splendidly with the farro – I was right.
I followed the basic cooking instructions for farro in The Italian Country Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper – very simple, just rinsing a cup of farro and throwing it in a saucepan with three cups of water and a little salt, then simmering it for 40 minutes or so. Continue reading