Chef Instructor Lars Kronmark from The Culinary Institute of America-Greystone demonstrates the versatility of grains to a group of NACUFS member managers at a recent Culinary Skills Enhancement Workshop sponsored jointly by NACUFS and Basic American Foods. "The emphasis on more authentic ethnic cuisine in today's menus has made it possible for chefs to employ a much wider variety of grains and grain preparation techniques," Kronmark says.
Fiber rich yet calorie light, grains add new taste and texture to the menu. The grains listed below are some that are particularly well suited to side dish recipes.
Barley 'Pearl' barley, the most commonly used form, is creamy with a neutral flavor when cooked and can be treated like Arborio rice for risotto. "Pressed" barley is common in Japanese dishes and "hole" barley, with its protective layer of bran intact, plumps nicely when cooked. (Fibrous "whole hulled" requires an overnight soaking.)
Bulgur The parched, steamed and dried berries of wheat, bulgur comes in three grinds: fine (#1) for bread and dessert; medium/all purpose (#2) for tabouli, salads; and coarse (#3) for pilaf and stuffings.
Bulgur can be cooked by simmering, presoaking and boiling (like rice), and can also be cooked (toasted) pilaf-style.
Couscous The grains of steamed semolina. For authentic taste and texture steam the grains over broth or water for 60 minutes.
Grano A new product in the U.S., grano is essentially polished durum wheat and is reminiscent of barley. With an appealing golden hue and chewiness when cooked, it can be prepared as you would Arborio rice for risotto.
Grits and whole hominy Grits are available both processed and stone ground. Enrich with vegetables, cheese, eggs or protein. Hominy is corn that has been processed in a water bath—the kernels swell, loosen from the hull and become somewhat puffy.
Kasha These roasted hulled buckwheat kernels have a toasty nutty flavor. Prior to cooking, coat with beaten egg (1 egg to 2 cups kasha), then stir-toast in a heavy skillet. This helps to keep the grains seperate and crisp even after long cooking periods.
Millet A small, round, yellow or golden grain that when toasted and cooked unadorned has a delicate flavor of toasted cashews. Combine with root vegetables for stuffing and salads.
Quinoa Technically a dried fruit, this high protein 'grain' is native to South America. The best grade is altiplano. Buy the whitest, largest grains you can find. Toasting in a dry skillet prior to cooking will add depth of flavor.
Triticale Berries a hybrid of wheat and rye with a nutty flavor, they can be presoaked and used in salads, casseroles and stuffing.
YIELD: 50 servings
6 oz. olive oil
1 lb., 1 1oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 lb., 4oz. onion, diced
3 qts., 1 cup chicken stock
1 cup white wine
2 lbs., 6 oz. barley
YIELD: 50, 1/2 cup servings
1 cup olive oil, salad or cooking
6 medium onions, raw, diced
12 large stalks of celery, diced
3 lbs. carrot, raw, peeled, diced
3 qts. quinoa
3 qts. water
4-5 bay leaves
1/4 cup chicken base
1/4 cup fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice 2 lbs. peas, frozen
Recipes from Joanne Shearer, RD, MS, CDE, LN, Team Leader, Food & Nutrition Services, Avera Heart Hospital of South Dakota, Sioux Falls, SD