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This is another meal that became of those lovely free things I got for being a member of Raley’s membership card program, ‘Something Extra.’   I was so excited to see that one of the grains they were marketing was farro or spelt, which is a grain common to the Tuscan hills where I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time.   It’s a wonderful, nutty tasting grain that you can cook up like risotto or use like barley.  DSCN4271Because I’m such a budget conscious home cook, I always try to plan a meal around whatever the good deals are that week, complimenting whatever it is staple items whose price is relatively stable.  For this meal, I wanted to pair my windfall farro with something bright and lemony, like chicken piccatta, because the farro is so nutty and earthy.  The two are a lovely combination.

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Farrotto with Roasted Red Peppers

Meal serves 3 – cost approx $.92 per serving

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs olive oil or butter
  • 1/2 onion, small dice ($.25)
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 (8.8 oz) package farro, approx 1 1/2 – 2 cups (free!)
  • 1/2 cup white wine ($.12)
  • 6-10 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese ($.25)
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced ($.25)

This dish uses the traditional ‘risotto method’ to cook the grains.  Begin by putting the chicken stock on a back burner to simmer gently on stand-by.  Start the dish by heating olive oil or butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Gently saute or ‘sweat’ the onions and the smashed garlic cloves until the onion is cooked through and translucent but not browned, 5-10 minutes.  Add in the farro and saute for 2-3 minutes.

DSCN4274Next, add in the white wine and stir gently until mostly absorbed.   Ladle in chicken stock, 1 cup at at time, maintaining a gentle simmer and stirring occasionally.  Continue this process of slowly adding stock once most of it has been absorbed until the grains are tender.  Season to taste.  After the grains are fully cooked, mix in the parmesan and roasted peppers.

Chicken Piccatta

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, skin and bones removed ($.89)
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup A.P. flour
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine ($.12)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 lemon ($.50)
  • 1 Tbs capers, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup parsley ($.12)

This part is really fun.  I took two breasts off of a whole chicken (I saved the leg quarters for another use and used the bones to make the stock for the farrotto.) and removed the skin.  Then I took off the tenders and sliced each breast into 3-4 pieces.  Lay all the pieces on a cutting board and cover with plastic.  Go all ‘Dexter’ on that stuff, salmonella is no laughing matter.

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Now, flatten out the breasts into 1/4 inch thick cutlets by pounding on them with a meat mallet or heavy bottomed pan.  This is a great job for someone who is mildly irritated, not lividly angry.  The goal is to smash the chicken with even pressure, not pound it into submission.

Season the chicken cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper.  Put the flour in a shallow dish for dredging.  Heat the oil in a saute pan.  Now you’re ready to start.  One at a time, dredge the cutlets in the flour and then put them immediately into the pan.  Brown on both sides then remove the cutlets to a resting place.  Once space clears up in the saute pan, dredge another cutlet and brown it up; repeat until all the cutlets are cooked.

To make the pan sauce, pour the wine, chicken stock, lemon zest and juice into the pan to simmer.  Simmer to reduce the liquid and scrape all the browned, chicken bits off the bottom.   Return the chicken to the pan to simmer in the sauce for a few minutes.  Finish the sauce by stirring in the butter, parsley and capers.  Check the seasonings and dig in!

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I loved spooning the sauce all over my plate, it was so tasty!

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