I left class Thursday night feeling utterly full, both literally and figuratively. Sampling seven dishes of grains will leave you satisfied, but the knowledge I learned about grains and the cooking techniques to ensure a perfectly cooked grain every time were priceless.
Let’s cut to the chase with the grain of all grains, brown rice. I have had many run ins cooking horrible horrible rice. I either burn it and the rice gets stuck to the bottom of the pot, or better yet, I put in too much liquid only to be left with a sticky ball of mush. I’m happy to say that those days are over, as the rice pilaf recipe that Chef Brian taught is will forever be engrained in my brain. It starts off similarly to the way I start a risotto, but instead of painstakingly stirring it on the stove and adding stock, you sweat some onions in butter, toast the rice slightly and then pop it in the oven with chicken stock and let it simmer away enveloped in heat. For good measure, your ratio of grains to liquid for brown rice should be 1 part rice to 1 1/2 parts liquid.
For our practical in the kitchen, my partner Theresa and I nailed the rice pilaf and thoroughly enjoyed the lentils. We prepared those with onions and bacon which is a guaranteed way to make sure your meal doesn’t suck 🙂 Lentils to liquid ratio should be 1 part lentils to 2 parts chicken stock.
Chef also demoed the most decadent and creamy polenta I’ve ever had. Parmesan and rich mascarpone cheese played a critical role in making me swoon over every bite. Oh and never ask a chef if they’re using 2% milk because an uproar of laughter will ensue, not that I did that or anything…
Couscous followed and was made with a couscousier, a fancy pot from Morocco that steams the couscous much like a vegetable steamer. At the end of the day, I’d say that the star of the show by far was the risotto. Toasted shiitake mushrooms and fresh English peas made an appearance, and the flavor was spot on. I would have gone back for thirds and fourths if they let me!
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