Weekend Cooking: Farro Risotto with Pears
I had a cooking breakthrough a couple week’s ago, right about when I made the best tart ever. I realized there are two kinds of cooking, one utilitarian and the other more leisurely, and unfortunately, I was only doing one of them.
Weeknight cooking I’m all too familiar with. It involves me arriving home in sweaty gym clothes, flailing around the kitchen, often a little grumpy and stressed, manically trying to create something to eat before the dum-dum starting bell of Law & Order.
Weekend cooking is baking something. It’s letting something simmer and humming while I chop. It’s relaxed, experimental, and, you don’t need me to tell you, way more fun. But sometimes by the time the weekend rolls around you’ve had enough of washing the dishes and stirring things yourself. You just want to be served. You want someone to set a plate before you, pour the wine, and take it all away when you’re done. And this is why I spend a startling chunk of money in restaurants.
But when I started cooking on Saturday night a few week’s ago, I remembered exactly what it is I love about cooking. I love the expanse of time without a hard deadline in sight. I like trying those recipes that have been clipped and sitting idly in notebooks for years. I like chopping and letting my mind wander, my curiosity and creativity percolate, and later, sitting with my beau at our round white table and having a dinner party for two.
Farro Risotto with Pears
When I was invited to a fancy luncheon hosted by Grana Padano with the promise that Lidia Bastianich herself would be in attendance, I couldn’t rsvp fast enough. Lidia was earthy, warm, and relaxed, just like she is on her show, and the risotto served was a total showstopper. When she came over and put her hand on the back of my chair and asked if I was enjoying myself (um, yes!), I told her I was a total convert to making risotto with farro. And I know it might sound crazy to say, but I think I like grana padano more than parmigiano reggiano. It has a sweetness that goes really beautifully with the pears in this risotto.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2-3 small shallots, minced (about 1/3 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup farro
5 cups chicken stock
1 pear, peeled and minced
1/2 cup grana padano
In a medium saucepan, bring chicken stock to a gentle simmer. Meanwhile, in a wide pan with straight sides, combine olive oil and butter over moderate heat. When butter has melted, add shallots and garlic and cook until translucent and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Add farro and stir to make sure each grain is coated with butter and oil.
Ladle in a cup of hot broth and cook, stirring continuously, until the broth is absorbed. Continue this pattern of ladling and cooking for about 20 minutes. At that point, stir in the pear and continue to cook, ladling in broth and stirring, for another 10-15 minutes until farro is tender and risotto is creamy. Stir in grana padano and serve right away.