When people think of New England farms, grains may not be the first crop that comes to mind. However, this region has a rich history of grain production, so much so that three sheaves of wheat are visible on Vermont’s state flag. In the 19th century, French and English settlers transformed the Green Mountain State into one of the largest grain producers in the country, earning it the moniker “Breadbasket of America.”
Drawing on this history, and the availability of incredible New England-grown grains from producers like Maine Grains, or through the Northern Grain Growers Association in Vermont, we are offering two Italian-inspired classics with a local twist.
The secret to the recipes is to use the best quality grains and to soak them overnight for optimal texture and flavor. These hearty, simple dishes are particularly satisfying on cold New England evenings.
FARRO RISOTTO WITH HERBS
This is a take on classic Italian risotto. It’s simpler to prepare than the traditional rice dish, and much more flavorful.
Start to finish: 24 hours to soak, 20-30 minutes cooking time
Servings: 4-6 as a main course
2 cups farro 4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil 6 medium shallots, sliced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar 6 cups chicken stock
1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 cup parsley, chopped 1/4 cup chives, chopped 1/4 cup tarragon, chopped
About 24 hours before cooking, soak the farro in the chicken stock. Keep it in the refrigerator.
Place a large saucepan or Dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat.
Add half (2 tablespoons) of the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.
When the butter is melted, add the shallots, salt and pepper. Brown for 2-3 minutes until the shallots are golden.
Add the white wine vinegar to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Carefully add the chicken stock and farro to the pan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Once the stock boils, reduce to a simmer, stir occasionally, and cook until the grains are tender and have absorbed the stock (10-20 minutes).
Remove from the heat. Add the remaining butter to the pan (2 tablespoons), as well as the parsley, chives, tarragon and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.