Sunday, October 16, 2011

Italian Stuffing: Farro Out!

Far Out- FARRO out... get it? Ok, bad joke aside, if you haven't tried farro, do it! Grown in Italy, farro has very similar characteristics to spelt and barley and is an ancient grain with a nutty flavor. It is often used in soups, but can also be used in pilafs or substituted for other grains.

During a recent visit to the Rochester Public Market with my daughters Carly and Gillian, and Gillian's boyfriend Matt, we met Matt's uncle who sells healthy food items, and a bag of farro caught my eye. I bought it, leaving it in my pantry for quite some time as I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with it.

And then it occurred to me that I could make a stuffing out of it, with the farro as a substitute for the bread. To keep true to its origins, I decided that it needed to be full of Italian flavors: garlic, lemon, basil, rosemary, pancetta, pecorino Romano cheese.... Is your mouth watering?

And what to stuff? I decided on a pork tenderloin, but this would be a great stuffing for chicken, turkey, and even for a beef braciola. The recipe makes enough to stuff two pork tenderloins and still have some leftover to bake in a small casserole dish in the oven. With this stuffing, you will want to have leftovers!

I'll definitely be using farro again. Another delicious, healthy grain to add to my growing list!

Pork Tenderloin with Farro Stuffing
1 cup farro
3 cups chicken stock
1 medium onion
2 oz. diced pancetta
Sea salt, pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh spinach
3 cloves garlic
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
1 T chopped basil
½ cup golden raisins soaked in 1/2 cup white wine
Rind of 1 lemon
¼ grated pecorino Romano cheese
2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
4 T unsalted butter, softened
2 pork tenderloins
2 T extra virgin olive oil

For stuffing:
Place farro and stock in a pot and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 50 minutes.
Soak raisins in white wine. In large frying pan over medium heat, brown onions in a little extra virgin olive oil. Add pancetta and cook until crisp. Season with salt and pepper. Add spinach, garlic, rosemary, and basil and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Drain raisins, reserving wine for sauce. Add raisins, lemon rind, cheese, breadcrumbs, and pine nuts. Stir together and remove from heat. Cool slightly.

For tenderloins:
Cut each tenderloin to open up, leaving flat pieces. Pound out to about ½ inch thickness. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Spread a generous amount of stuffing onto each piece of pork. Roll sides or pork toward each other, tucking in stuffing as you go. Tie each roll in several places with cooking twine. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

Heat an oven safe nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and place rolled tenderloins in pan when oil is hot. Sear on all sides. Finish in 325 degree over or until internal temperature is 140-145 degrees. Remove tenderloins from pan and let rest for 5 minutes while making the sauce.

Place pan on stove over medium-high heat. Deglaze pan with the reserved white wine. Reduce by 1/4. Whisk in butter. Whisk until thickened.

Slice pork tenderloin rolls. Serve with pan sauce.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Quick Weeknight Supper Worth Blogging About!

My family loves Thai flavors. So when I spotted this Thai chicken soup recipe in Food Network Magazine, I decided to give it a try. I found it in the "Weeknight Cooking" section of the magazine, where quick recipes abound, perfect for working families. This one boasts a 30 minute start to finish promise. One would think that a soup made in this amount of time might be lacking in flavor. On the contrary, this one is full of it. The creaminess of the coconut milk with the bite of curry and the freshness of lime? A wonderful combination. And believe it or not, I made it a second time with absolutely no substitutions. That's right, the substitution queen has no recommedations for improvement!

So here is the recipe. It's quick, full of wonderful Thai flavors and satisfying. And with only three of us at home, a whole pot of this soup means another meal later in the week.

Thai Chicken Soup
from Food Network Magazine, November 2010

1 T vegetable oil (ok, so I did substitute canola oil...)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T green curry paste
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 15-oz. can coconut milk
1 T fish sauce
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
4 oz. thin rice noodles, broken into pieces (I used Soba noodles. Ok, so I lied.)
2 small skinless boneless chicken breasts(about 1 lb.) very thinly sliced, crosswise
1 T fresh lime juice
1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro (I used less- 1 cup seemed like A LOT!)

1. Heat the oil in large pot over med-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and curry paste and cook, stirring 1-2 minutes. Add the broth, coconut milk and fish sauce, cover and bring to a boil.
2. Add the bell peppers and noodles and simmer, uncovered until the noodles are al dente, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer until just cooked through, about 3 minutes more. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Add more fish sauce and lime juice if desired.