05-03-08 - 2

To cook 1 cup of grain (or thing that acts like a grain) :

Rice : 2 cups water, 20 minutes, covered simmer.

Risotto : 2 2/3 cups water, 30 minutes, uncovered simmer. (ratio is 1.5 cups grain to 4 cups liquid)

Steel cut oats : 3.5 cups water, 25 minutes then check and maybe cook 5 minutes more or add liquid (milk optional). uncovered simmer. The goal is "al dente" not mush. Usually pre-toast in dry pan. Stir minimally. Finish with butter.

Rolled oats in the microwave : the quaker oats says 2 cups water (to 1 cup of oats); I find it's better with 1.5 cups water, otherwise it's just oat soup. 2.5 minutes for me; I like my oats with a tiny bit of tooth, not soggy mush.

Couscous (fine) : 1.5 cups boiling water, 5 minutes. seal and let sit off heat. This produces a semi-dry couscous which is intentional because I plan to use it as a bed for a saucy main dish or pour some other flavorful liquid over it.

Warning : This is for the typical fine grain couscous that Americans get; real traditional couscous is a much larger grain and takes a lot longer to cook; don't be thrown off by traditional couscous recipes. There are also medium grain couscouses available which would be different.

Kasha : 2 cups water, 10-15 minutes, covered simmer. Usually pre-toast.

Warning : there are a wide variety of kasha (buckwheat groat) kernel sizes, so you may need to do some experimenting to see what you get. There are completely whole kernels (not recommended, a bit weird IMO), cracked kernels (best) and fine kernels (bad). Start with 10 minutes cooking and see what you get. The stuff I get at Rainbow takes about 10 minutes.

Also, IMO the traditional "varnishkes" method with egg is a little bit weird and definitely unnecessary.

Polenta : 2.5 cups water, 40 minutes then start checking for doneness and maybe 5 minutes more, uncovered simmer. Minimal stirring. Finish with butter & parm. Lots of salt.

Quinoa : 2 cups water, 10-15 minutes (generally 15 unless you like it really poppy like fish eggs). Covered simmer. Note : actually if you rinse the quinoa it holds so much water that you only want 1.5 cups water.

Warning : you must rinse quinoa before cooking, though many grocery store brands are pre-rinsed.

Yes yes I know couscous is not a grain, it's nuggets of wheat, but I treat it like a grain so whatever. Also Kasha is technically not a grain, it's a "groat" but it acts like a grain, and quinoa is some kind of seed or something.

The #1 mistake people make with grains is not salting. Grains needs a LOT of salt. Salting during cooking is generally good, but supposedly bad for steel cut oats (questionable). The #2 common mistake is probably overcooking. When in doubt slightly undercook because there will be carryover. Your goal is not mush.

General warning : it's almost impossible to cook less than 1 cup of a grain. If you're single or a small eater you may be tempted to try to cook less, but it's too little mass and the water evaporates too much and it probably won't turn out very well. Grain is cheap, just make 1 cup and throw out the excess.

Other notes on steel cut oats : Alton likes to add dairy, but personally I prefer them without any dairy; I've tried cream too, and any kind of dairy in the oats just really mellows out the flavor and subtracts from the nutty oaty goodness; I'd rather add extra butter, though the better the oats are cooked the less butter & sugar you need, you just want to appreciate the texture and natural flavor. If you are single and want to make a batch and don't plan on eating the whole thing - scoop out what you want to save after 20 minutes of cooking and put in tupperware. Lid it and stick it in the fridge. At 20 minutes it's very undercooked, but the residual heat will keep cooking it, so when you take it out of the fridge the next day it will be almost cooked, and then after a few minutes in the microwave it will be done.

No comments:

old rants