Farro, is an Italian word used to describe a variety of ancient grains including Einkorn, Emmer and Spelt. Before the invention of milling techniques that allowed wheat to be transformed into flour, whole wheat was eaten like we eat rice today. Whether it’s a mushroom pilaf or warm salad, Farro works in almost any dish that can be made with rice. It has a marvelously firm texture that doesn’t go mushy, and a mild nutty flavor that makes it a perfect base to build other flavors upon.
As you might have guessed from the name, this is my take on Arroz con Pollo. Normally made with marinated chunks of bone-in chicken cooked with rice, I swapped out the rice for farro, turning this homely classic into something more earthy and rustic. The farro swells with the flavor of the chicken and sofrito while maintaining a firm texture that keeps each bite interesting. Meanwhile, the chicken becomes fall-off-the-bone tender as it cooks with the farro.
I’ve used semi-perlato farro because some of the bran has been milled off, making it cook faster, but there’s still plenty of fiber remaining, along with the germ and endosperm. If you use either un-pearled or fully pearled farro, the amount of liquid and cooking times will change (you’ll need more liquid and time for un-pearled, and less for fully pearled).
Farro Con Pollo
- 19.4 ounces (550 grams) chicken thighs skin-on bone-in cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8.8 ounces (250 grams) onion (1 medium onion), diced
- 2.5 ounces (70 grams) anaheim pepper (1 large pepper), diced
- 2.5 ounces (70 grams) red bell pepper (1/2 pepper), diced
- .4 ounces (12 grams) garlic (2 large cloves), minced
- 1/2 teaspoon mexican oregano - dried
- 10.6 ounces (300 grams) ripe tomatoes (3 small tomatoes), chopped
- 2 small bay leaves
- .5 ounces (15 grams) cilantro (4 sprigs), chopped
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 9.5 ounces (270 grams) semi-perlato farro (about 1 1/2 cups)
- Toss the chicken with the paprika, salt, pepper and olive oil and let it marinate for at least 15 minutes.
- Heat a saute-pan over medium-high heat until hot, and then add the chicken, skin-side down. Let the chicken fry on that side until the skin is golden brown and then flip and fry the other side until browned. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Add the onions, anaheim pepper, red bell pepper, garlic and oregano and saute until tender and browning. This is where the farro gets most of its flavor from so make sure your sofrito is well caramelized.
- Add the tomatoes, bay leaves and cilantro and cook until the tomatoes are soft.
- Put the farro in a colander and rinse thoroughly.
- Add the chicken stock, salt and farro to the sofrito and return the chicken pieces to the pan. Bring to a simmer and then turn down the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Cook uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until the farro is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.