Freekeh-ing out before the storm

I feel the need to try any and every new grain that I hear about. I wish I could say it is because grains are healthy, but it really is just that I like trying to cook something new. And because I’m addicted to rice and know I need to diversify. Which was why when I saw a box of Freekeh in Whole Foods, I bought it before I had any idea what it was. I put it in a container in the pantry and waited for inspiration to strike. It took the odd but true combination of House Hunters International and Hurricane Sandy.

Now most people think, “A storm is coming, gotta get French Toast supplies.” I think, “A storm is coming, gotta roast a chicken.” For me, a roast chicken is always the start of an easy fall into a rabbit hole of recipe ideas. As part of the requisite storm war chest, I had already baked some multigrain bread to go with my slow baked apple butter so chicken sandwiches sounded like a good idea too.

The chicken was butterflied and roasting in the oven and for some reason a recent episode of House Hunters International came to mind. A grandmother was sitting at the head of a table with her family and watching them all eat the meal she made. One of the things on the table was Freekeh. The house hunter said they ate it just like rice. So I reached into the cabinet and pulled out the Freekeh. The box said to use 5 cups of water for 1 cup of Freekeh. I scoffed and decided to try my “Foolproof rice method” and was surprised to find that it worked.

The “sad” moment of the evening was when the Freekeh was on the stove, the bread was cooling, the kale was in the container ready to be moved to the fridge and I heard the oven timer beep.  I was looking around the kitchen completely confused.  What else could I possibly have made that would be beeping?  Ah yes…. the chicken.

Freekeh

Freekeh

1 T olive oil
1-1/2 c Freekeh
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
3-1/2 c chicken/vegetable stock or water

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, test the heat in the pan by dropping a few drops of water into the pan. When the water curls up into balls and dances over the surface of the pan, add the oil. Swirl pan to distribute the oil over the bottom of the pan. Add the Freekeh. Stir to coat with oil and toast the Freekeh. The freekeh will brown a bit. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. Add garlic purée and stir to coat the Freekeh. Add salt and pepper and smoked paprika. Stir to coat. Add stock or water. Leave to cook until the liquid level is about 1/4″ below the top of the grains. Cover sauce pan and turn off the heat under the pot but leave it on the burner. Leave to cook for at least 20 minutes to allow the liquid to be absorbed.