Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lemon Pepper Chicken on Shitake Farro

I've been looking all over for farro for about a year. None of my usual spots carries it.

I read about it on someone else's blog, and I had to travel all the way to San Francisco to find it. Everytime I visit my friends in San Francisco, I visit the Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, and I always find stuff that I can't find back East. I usually pack an extra bag so that I can bring back groceries from this place. The last time I was there, I brought back heirloom beans, three different kinds of salt, and mission burrito shells. This time I got the farro, blue cornmeal, and orecchiette (literally, "little ears," or "lambs ears pasta"). We cooked the orecchiette with homemade pesto, inspired by our lunch at Chez Panisse which we visited while in the Bay Area.

I finally made the faro last week, which is actually spelt. I cooked it with shitake mushrooms from the green market, topped with lemon pepper chicken breast strips and lemon-butter sauce with thyme. It was a delicious meal.

Shitake Farro

3 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic. each cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup diced red onions
1 cup sliced shitake mushrooms
1/4 cup marsala wine
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
3 cups cooked farro

To make 3 cups cooked Farro:
1 cup farro
1 3/4 cups water
pinch salt

First, boil your water so that you're ready to use it in the faro, which you'll toast next. Place farro in a dry, cast iron pan and heat it until it starts to smell roasted, maybe 3-4 minutes. Shift the farro around with a wooden spoon or other cooking implement. Turn off the heat, and then carefully pour the boiling water over the farro. Add salt, simmer and cover and cook until the farro is tender and chewy. This may take 20-30 minutes and you may have to add a bit more water.

Heat oil in another cast iron pan, add the onion and garlic and saute until onions are starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and stems, season with salt, and saute over medium high heat until mushrooms have released their liquid and are well browned, about 5 minutes or longer.

Stir in the marsala/water mixture and cook until liquid is mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add chopped thyme, and then add thecooked farro and heat 2-3 minutes, stirring gently. You may need to add some water to keep the farro moist. Heat through and you'll be ready to serve.

Lemon-Pepper Chicken
This is the simplest part of the whole dish. You can prepare the chicken en paillard, in strips, chunks, or as whole or half breasts--on the bone or off.

Chicken (enough for your guests, plus some for lunch!)
Olive oil

Heat the oil in a pan until it's smokin' hot. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper, then squeeze the lemon(s) over the chicken when it's just starting to brown. You can throw the lemon (in slices, or chunks) right into the pan with the chicken. Brown the chicken until it's cooked, and until it's cooked to your liking.

Lemon-Thyme Butter Sauce

2 tbsp. ghee (or clarified butter)
(if you're making it from scratch, you'll need abt 1/2 stick butter)
2 tbsp finely-minced yellow onion
2 tbsp finely-minced garlic
6 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp dry white wine
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly-grnd white pepper to taste
2 tbsp cool butter

To clarify butter: Heat 1/2 stick butter over low heat. When melted, remove from heat and set aside for several min to allow the lowfat milk solids to settle to the bottom. Skim the clear (clarified) butter from the top and throw away sediment. (This can be done ahead.)

To make sauce: Heat clarified butter, add in onion and garlic and saute/fry till transparent. Add in lemon juice and white wine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer 2 to 3 min to reduce liquid. Remove from heat and swirl in cool butter till sauce is smooth and emulsified.

No comments: