Makes: 8 servings (6 to 8 cups)
Time: 10 minutes to more than 1 hour, depending on the grain
One sure way to eat more whole grains is to always have some handy, and that's almost as easily said as done: they bubble along without fuss, can be made ahead, and keep in the fridge for about a week. Once you get used to making whole grains, you'll probably stop measuring. That's fine: the amount of water grains will absorb varies anyway, depending on their age and how they were stored.
My technique works for just about anything, including rice (the exceptions are noted in the variations). You won't normally eat this whole batch, but again, grains keep and reheat perfectly. If you want to cook smaller quantities more frequently, just cut the amount of grains in half, more or less.
For more about what to do with the grains once they're cooked, see the list on page 13 of the book. (Example: Savory Vegetable and Grain Torta.)
1. Rinse the grain in a strainer, and put it in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid along with a big pinch of salt. Add enough water to cover by about an inch (no more); if you want your grains on the dry side, cover with closer to 1/2 inch of water. Use 3 cups water for pearled barley, which absorbs a more precise amount of water. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently.
2. Cook, stirring once in a while, until the grain is tender. This will take as little as 7 or 8 minutes for steel-cut oats, about 40 minutes for brown rice, and as long as 1 hour or more for some specialty rices, unpearled or hulled barley, wheat berries, and other unhulled grains. Add boiling water as necessary to keep the grains just submerged, but—especially as the grain swells and begins to get tender—keep just enough water in the pot to prevent the grain from drying out and sticking.
3. Every now and then, test a grain. Grains are done when just barely tender (they should always have some chew). Be careful not to overcook unless you want them on the mushy side. If the water is all absorbed at this point (one sure sign is that little holes have formed in the top), then cover and remove from heat. If some water still remains, drain the grains (reserving the water for soup if you like), and immediately return the grains to the pot, cover, and remove from the heat. Either way, undisturbed, they'll stay warm for about 20 minutes.
4. Toss the grain with the oil if you like, and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. If you're serving it right away, see What to Do with Cooked Grains (page 137 of the book).
Couscous: Put 2 cups of whole wheat couscous in a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid and add 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and remove from the heat. Let steep for at least 10 minutes (5 minutes if using white couscous), or up to 20. Fluff with a fork and serve as described in the main recipe.
Bulgur: Put 2 cups of bulgur (any grind) in a large bowl with a pinch of salt. Pour 5 cups boiling water over all. Stir once and let sit. Fine bulgur will be tender in 10 to 15 minutes, medium in 15 to 20 minutes, and coarse in 20 to 25. If any water remains when the bulgur is done, put the bulgur in a fine strainer and press down on it, or squeeze it in a cloth. Fluff with a fork and serve as described in the main recipe.
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This page created May 2009
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