Saturday, April 6, 2013

Traditional, with a Twist: Baked Farro “Arancini”


This is my entry to the contest hosted by Tuscan Fields to win a conference registration to Eat Write Retreat. I had a fabulous time the last two years and would love to attend again in the new Philadelphia location. I hope that you enjoy my post and that I am able to attend EWR13 thanks to Tuscan Fields!  

Connection – that is my word. Last year at Eat Write Retreat, Monica Bhide challenged us to find the one word that defined our blogs. Connection can mean many things, but for Good Cook Doris one of the main ways my “word” presents itself is connecting tradition with today through old recipes with new twists or traditional ingredients with a new spin.

This scholarship contest challenged bloggers to take farro, an ancient grain, and come up with an original recipe and post. Keeping my word in mind, I knew that my recipe would be traditional, with a twist! As with last year, I’m still squeezing cooking in along with family, work, school, and life. I wanted a recipe that would showcase the farro and be easy enough to make while having a million other things on my plate to do.

Tuscan Fields is bringing farro to the US from Tuscany.  Their products are grown at Fattoria Pieve a Salti and are 100% organic. Farro has been a part of Tuscan cuisine as far back as ancient Rome! In addition to being an agriturismo, the farm is also the second largest producer of organic agriculture products in Tuscany. For my recipe, I used Tuscan Fields® Farro Perlato. For a little background on farro, I turned to the Tuscan Fields website. Here is a description in their words:  “Farro is often translated into English as ‘spelt’ – but it is actually another variety of heirloom or “ancient” grain in the wheat family. Its biological name is triticum dicoccum and it is the forerunner to spelt (Triticum Spelta) on the evolutionary wheat chain. In the U.S. triticum dococcum is also called “emmer wheat” but it is readily known worldwide as “farro”.”



I decided on a twist on risotto and arancini. Farro’s nutty flavor and slightly texture makes it perfect for many different preparations and spice additions. We eat a lot of southwestern flavors here in the Good Cook Doris kitchen which means the spices and herbs we run out of the most are cumin, chili powder, and cilantro. I wanted to incorporate these into my farro recipe, along with a delicious Queso Blanco that we picked up at last week’s winter farmers market. The cheese is locally made in Rhode Island by Narragansett Creamery .

First, I made a savory and delicious farro-risotto with onions, carrots, garlic, spices, and chicken broth. Next, I wrapped it around squares of Queso Blanco and coated it in seasoned panko breadcrumbs. After about 20 minutes in the oven, and a quick broil, the baked arancini were ready. Cutting into the middle revealed a warm, melty cheese center. The sea saltiness of the cheese paired with the creamy, spiced flavor of the favor made for a delicious bite.




In true Good Cook Doris fashion, while I was making this recipe I was also busy at work on a paper for my graduate school class this semester. I set up shop in the kitchen and in between steps tried to get a few words written. It's all about maximizing the time you have, right?



I hope you enjoy this recipe and that I have a chance to enjoy Eat Write Retreat 2013 in Philly!



Farro Risotto
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced small
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder (I used a red chili powder from Texas)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1.5 cups Tuscan Fields Farro Perlato (this ended up being the entire 9.1 oz package)
2 cups water
1.5 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or 1 tablespoon freeze-dried, or dried cilantro)
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

In medium saucepan add oil, onion, carrots and garlic
Cover and cook over medium-low for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally
Stir in cumin and chili powder and cook until you can smell the spices (about 1 minute)
Add farro to the saucepan and stir well, cook for about 2 minutes or until lightly toasted
Add broth and water and stir
Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5-7 minutes until farro is tender (but still has slightly chewy texture)
Remove from heat, mix in cilantro and lime juice and season with salt if desired

Note:  I did not add too much salt, knowing that I would be adding a salty cheese to the final baked product.



Baked Farro Arancini
Farro-risotto from above recipe
10 half-inch cubes of Queso Blanco
1 cup AP flour
1 egg plus a splash of water, lightly beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil or melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Set up three shallow bowls on your work space
In one bowl, put the flour
In the second bowl, mix the egg and water
In the third bowl, mix breadcrumbs, chili powder, cumin and cilantro; add butter or olive and mix until well combined
Using an ice cream scoop (or cookie dough scoop), take a scoop of risotto and place it in your palm, flattening it slightly
Place a cube of cheese in the middle, using a smaller spoon, take about 1 tsp additional risotto and put on top of cheese
Shape the risotto into a ball, completely surrounding the cheese so you can’t see it at all, packing the ball tightly
Roll ball in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and place on the parchment paper lined baking sheet
Repeat for as many as you would like to make
Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees
Broil for 2-5 minutes until the outside is golden brown and crispy
Serve with warm salsa (your favorite jar or homemade)



Thank you to Tuscan Fields for the opportunity to win a chance to attend Eat Write Retreat!

Disclaimer: 
I signed up to enter this scholarship contest and was one the first 50 entries which meant that I received two packages of farro from Tuscan fields to use in developing a recipe for this contest entry. To be eligible to win, I had to create an original recipe and post, and link to both Tuscan Fields and Eat Write Retreat. For full details of the contest, you can click here



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