Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pork and Farro Improv

This is a dish I invented on the fly, and it worked.

What I Used
Two cups uncooked farro
One pound of ground pork
Two big cloves of garlic
Half of a medium-sized onion
A bit of olive oil
A bit of apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

What I Did
1. Put farro in a three-quart pot and added four cups boiling water.  Then I put that pot on the burner on high until the water boiled again, lowered the heat to simmer, covered the pot, and set the timer for 20 minutes.

2. Stuck a standing colander in the sink.

3. Put a dutch oven on the stove, added enough oil to cover the bottom thinly, and set the heat to a low-medium.  (For enameled cookware, standard advice is to heat with the oil already added.  That's the opposite of the advice for stainless steel.)

4. Peeled and chopped the garlic into little pieces, and the onion into slightly larger pieces.

5. Put the garlic and onion in the dutch oven, and stirred until it began to turn a little bit brown.

6. Added the pork to the dutch oven and broke it up into little pieces and then stirred it and the garlic and onion until everything was light brown.  (At this point, I had a little problem because there was a lot of liquid in the bottom of the dutch oven, so that my pork was going to steam instead of browning further.  So I ran the sink tap until the water was hot, left it running, poured the pork mixture into the colander, and then poured the pork back into the dutch oven with much less liquid--and put the colander back in the sink.  The hot water protected my pipes from clogging with fat.)

7. Continued cooking until the pork was the darker brown that says "Yum.  Cooked meat."

8. Added maybe a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the dutch oven and stirred everything around in it until it all disappeared into the meat.  I plan to experiment with adding a bit more next time I cook this.

9. Heard the timer go off on the farro and did a chew test to confirm it was nicely soft even though some water was left.

10. Poured the farro into the colander, shook the colander over the sink, and then poured all the farro into the dutch oven.

11. Stirred it all together, tasted, and added a bit of salt and fresh pepper.

Cinnamon could be a lovely addition. 

Cinnamon with lamb in place of pork would mean heading toward Moroccan flavors. Maybe a few sliced apricots or some golden raisins cooked with the farrow would suit that?

Mushrooms could contribute, though probably not with the cinnamon option, maybe added with the pork rather than with the onion so they don't get cooked to oblivion. 

Other vinegars could be fun, and I wouldn't be surprised if wine or beer also worked nicely.  

Rice in place of farro would be great, or quinoa or bulgur.  

One more idea, imagine using the mushrooms and adding cream or half-and-half after the farro and the meat are combined.  I can't decide whether the vinegar would be a plus or a minus that way, but I'll try both next winter.

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