I’d like to think that I’m not the only one…but, I love cookbooks. I love getting them as gifts, buying them as a treat, and reading them while lying in bed to unwind from the day before falling asleep. A well-written cookbook tells a story of a cuisine or the author, or both, sometimes blatantly but other times the story telling is so subtle, it’s easy to miss. Most cookbooks are charming and inspirational for me. I love them. Truly. But, admittedly, I don’t often cook from the cookbooks. I read them, frequently many times; but I rarely follow the recipes they contain. The internet or the many magazines we receive provide the recipes we try in our kitchen. And, honestly, I have no idea why that’s the case. So, in an effort to correct my lack of cookbook usage, I’m starting a ‘cookbook Sunday dinner.’ Each month, I’ll pick a cookbook and plan Sunday dinners with the recipes in that specific book. This way, I’ll try out a few recipes in each book–and blog about them. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired, too.
First one up: Heritage by the James Beard award winner, Sean Brock. This cookbook is beautiful; it is a lovely celebration of Southern food and was awarded the James Beard Foundation book award for ‘American Cooking.’ Sean Brock highlights the beauty of Southern cooking, demonstrating that Southern food, at its heart, is farm-to-table and seasonal. Heritage is a joy to read, telling the story of ingredients and recipes, and of Sean Brock. It’s a feast for the eyes and I’m excited to cook my first dish: Farrotto with acorn squash and red kale. This seemed quite appropriate for the first Sunday of October, especially with the autumn colors starting to show and the cool touch to the air this weekend!
A little note to you, dear reader, the recipe calls for a single bunch of kale and notes that it weighs about 3 lbs. (!!) of kale. Now, I’m not sure how big the bunches of kale are in North Carolina, but my bunch of kale did not weigh 3 lbs., merely about 5.5 oz (about 156 g) and this was plenty of kale. I’m guessing this is a typing error or we’re getting shorted on our bunches of kale in Seattle. Also, my small squash didn’t weigh about 2.5 lbs. as the recipe suggested a small acorn squash would–it weighed in at right about 1 lb. and, like the kale, I think this was enough and it was delicious. And, if you have leftovers, you’re in luck! This dish is reheats wonderfully and taste even better the next day.
Farrotto with Acorn Squash & Red Kale
Recipe from Heritage by Sean Brock
Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side
1 Small acorn squash
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Scant 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 C vegetable stock*
1 bunch Red Kale or other kale of your liking
2 Quarts vegetable stock*
1 1/2 tsp canola oil
1 1/2 C farro*
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 C diced white onion
1 garlic clove, sliced paper-thin
1/2 C dry white wine
1 C freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425 °F.
- Cut the squash in half, remove & discard the seeds; rinse the squash under cold water.
- Place the squash cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with foil.
- Divide the butter between the two halves and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast the squash for about 35 minutes or until fork-tender.
- Heat the 1 C Vegetable stock.
- Remove from oven, add the melted butter and any juice from the squash to the vegetable stock, then let the squash cool.
- Once the squash is cool enough to handle, remove the pulp, discard the skin, and add the puree the squash with the vegetable broth.
- Set aside until the faro is cooked.
- Remove the stems from the kale. Stack the leaves and roll into cylinders; cut the kale into thin ribbons.
- Wash the kale with cool water and drain a few times to remove any grit. Dry the kale with paper towels.
Farrotto (this can be started while the squash cooks, or made up to 3 days in advance)
- Heat 2 quarts of vegetable stock over medium heat; keep the stock warm.
- Heat the canola oil in a large skilled over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the farro and stir to coat.*
- Cook without stirring for 4 minutes; stir and cook for another 4 minutes. Be careful not to burn the farro.
- Transfer the farro to a bowl and wipe the skillet.
- Return the skillet to medium-high heat; add 2 Tbsp butter once the skillet is hot and reduce heat to medium.
- Add the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent—about 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for another 2 minutes.
- Then, add the wine and increase the heat to high; cook until the wine is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- Add the farro, stir to coat. Then, add 1/2 C warm stock, reduce heat to medium and stir until the liquid is almost absorbed.
- Continue cooking, adding the liquid 1/2 C at a time, stirring to prevent scorching and letting each addition absorb before adding more liquid, until the farro has expanded and is al dente. This will take about an hour.
- If made in advance, reheat over low heat before proceeding.
- Remove the farro from the heat; add the squash and kale. Stir until the kale is lightly wilted.
- Place back over medium heat and add the remaining 2 Tsp butter and the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste after addition of the cheese.
-I used a parmesan broth in place of the vegetable stock — 4-5 parmesan rinds and 2.5 quarts of water, simmered for a couple of hours before I needed it.
-I used Blue Bird grain’s Split Emmer Farro. Farro is not a single grain but a family of wheat grains, sometimes called ‘ancient grains’: einkorn, emmer, and spelt. I’m most familiar with emmer farro, also known a farro medio. That’s what I used for this recipe.
-Sean Brock’s original recipe has you cook the farro in the oven for the initial 8 minute toast but I kept the skillet cooking on the stove top with success.