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This farrotto—farro cooked in the style of risotto—from Sean Brock's new cookbook, Heritage, is the perfect foil to the artfully composed, modernist plates that make up most of the book: it's a warming, rustic potful of fall flavors.
He takes the same level of care here as he does with those multi-component dishes, however, and this is not a throw-it-together meal. Much of the flavor comes from his homemade, fennel-rich vegetable stock, and as tempting as it is to skip that time-consuming step, I wouldn't recommend it. After that's squared away, acorn squash is roasted and blended with some of the stock, resulting in a silky, aromatic purée that I would be happy to eat all on its own. Farro, preferably Anson Mills, is then toasted and attentively stirred with onion, garlic, wine and the stock for about an hour, until creamy and tender (though it retains that hearty farro chew). Ribbons of kale are added to wilt gently throughout, and the squash purée, butter and Parmigiano cheese melt into the farrotto, turning it to velvet.
Why I picked this recipe: It's so, so perfect for fall.
What worked: I loved eating this for days! The squash purée provides autumnal flavor and the silkiest texture, which is a counterpoint to the toothsome farro and slightly crunchy kale. The vegetable broth infuses the pot with layers of vegetal flavor through and through.
What didn't: My squash needed 10 more minutes in the oven than the time suggested, but follow his directive to cook until fork-tender (erring on the side of more done rather than less), and you'll be fine. I found it a bit irritating that the recipe calls for 2 quarts plus 1 cup of the Vegetable Stock, though the stock recipe only makes 2 quarts.
Suggested tweaks: I made 1 1/2-times the stock recipe, and got about 2 cups less than the 3 quarts I should have ended up with; if you want any stock left over, go ahead and double the recipe. If you have another stock on hand that you love, you could use that, but know that the flavor of the stock will be predominant in the final dish. Once again, I cheated and did not use Anson Mills farro, which I'm sure would have made this even more delicious; however, it worked great with the farro I had on hand. As to tweaking the flavors, Brock says in the recipe's intro: "Here I pair farrotto with fall flavors, but it can be a vehicle for whatever looks great at the farmers' market. Just keep in mind that farrotto brings a bit more heft to the plate than a traditional risotto."
Thanks to our friends at Artisan, we have 5 copies of Heritage to give away this week.