TASTE

Cook Grains Twice As Fast With This Shortcut

08/11/2016 4:02 AM AEDT | Updated 08/11/2016 6:36 AM AEDT
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For Bon Appetit, by Elyssa Goldberg.

Alex Lau

Senior food editor Chris Morocco eats a lot of quinoa — which has nothing to do with flavor (he thinks it’s meh) and everything to do with getting a whole grain on the table in 30 minutes. But no amount of bacon can make quinoa long-term tolerable, and the infinitely more interesting whole grains (spelt, wheat berries, hulled barley) take forever to cook. Long enough to put the pot on the stove, Marie Kondo your closet, watch an episode of your favorite show, and THEN they’re ready. Forever.

But Morocco, determined to figure out a way to avoid eating quinoa every damn day, realized that if you just blitz the whole grains in a food processor or blender before cooking, it — no joke — cuts the cooking time in half. You get a polenta-like savory base that seems like it should land on your table after hours in front of the stove on a Sunday, and yet it’s Wednesday and here you are with a hearty home-cooked meal.

Alex Lau

What you do is this: Put the kamut/rye/spelt/hulled barley/wheat berries/any other whole grain in a food processor or blender and pulse for about 20 seconds to 1 minute, until every grain is broken in half-ish. You want the grains to be coarse, more like steel-cut oats — not pulverized dust. Some dust is fine, because it’ll thicken your base porridge, but too much dust will make your finished dish excessively goopy and mushy. Breaking open the grains increases the surface area and makes the grains soften more quickly. If you want, you can blitz extra so that you have a jar full of the cut grains ready for a future date.

Next, combine one part grain with four parts water in a pot on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer, and occasionally whisk to break up clumps (as if you were making polenta) until the grain is tender and the mixture is thick and porridge-like, about 25 to 35 minutes. As with polenta, you can thicken with any cheese or fat you like.

As for toppings, the way Morocco thinks about it is that anything you would put on polenta would work well with this method too: garlicky greens like the virtuous farmers’ market connoisseur you are, sausage and grapes like it’s the 90s at your local Italian joint, or kimchi and eggs, because you know us too well. Or stir some into your usual morning oatmeal, so there’s a little chew instead of one-note gray mush. Finally, an excuse to raid the Bob’s Red Mill section of your grocery store (and actually use what you buy).

Get the Recipe: Alt-Grain Porridge with Kimchi and Jammy Eggs

Get the Recipe: Alt-Grain Porridge with Sausage and Grapes

Need some grain bowl topping inspiration? Right this way.

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