Here, farro stands in for the rice in a little chewier, earthier rendition of risotto. Farrotto may actually predate risotto. This iteration, with the chard and plenty of garlic is quite down-to-earth, but you can use the same technique with mushrooms or lemon zest and juice to make it lighter flavored.
INGREDIENTS:1½ cups faro 6 cups stock (vegetable or chicken) or water, or a combo of both, at a simmer (You may not use it all.) 1 heaping cup chard stems, ¼ inch dice, washed* 4 cups chard leaves, cut into ¼x2 inch ribbons, washed and well drained** ½ medium white or brown onion, ¼ inch dice 3 cloves garlic, minced ½ cup dry white wine Olive oil as needed Salt and pepper to taste 1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley 1 tablespoon fresh chopped marjoram, oregano, or 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Heat a 2-4 quart straight-sided pan over medium heat. Film the pan well with olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chard stems and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are tender but uncolored.
Add the garlic and stir in, cooking until softened and fragrant.
Add the farro and stir to coat with oil. Cook, stirring, until a mildly nutty aroma starts to come up from the pan or the farro starts to crackle.
Add a pinch of the herbs and the white wine. Cook, stirring, until the wine has reduced by 80%.
Add 1 cup of hot stock, and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, being sure to get all the grains off the pan bottom. A wooden spatula is best for this. Cook until the liquid is reduced just about all the way.
Add another cup of stock, give a stir, and simmer. Cook down, stirring occasionally, until reduced. Repeat twice more, and taste the farro. This should take around 25 minutes. It should be getting tender, with a little chewiness to it, and have a creaminess to it at the same time. If not quite there, continue adding the stock, but only ½ cup at a time now.
When the farrotto is tender, add the rest of the herbs and season with salt and pepper, and stir in. Add the chard leaves and stir in. Remove from the heat and cover the pan. After 5 minutes, the chard should be wilted and tender. Taste for seasoning, adjust if needed. If the chard has given off a lot of liquid, return to the heat and cook to evaporate so the farrotto is not soupy. If too dry, add a splash of stock. Drizzle with olive oil and serve hot.
*Use Swiss or Rainbow chard for this. All red chard might be a little too earthy. This will probably not be the entire batch of stems from the bunch of chard, but using more stems might overwhelm the other flavors of the dish. Save the rest for another use or cook them into a soffrito.
**4 cups should shrink down enough so as not to overwhelm the other ingredients of the dish. If the chard seems quite sturdy, reduce the volume to 3 cups. Frequently a recipe with chard will say not to worry too much about draining the leaves as the water will help cook the chard, but here the water would dilute the dish, so be sure to drain it well.
If you wish, you could mushrooms to the onions and cook them in, and then finish the dish with some lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice to lighten the dish. Use this technique with other vegetables as well. The dish can be made ahead up to the point of adding the chard leaves. Cook, set aside, and then reheat a just a bit of warm stock added, then finish as above.