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Farro for Farro Risotto

Asked by Hayley G. Answered on 9th March 2014

Full question

I cooked the Farro Risotto With Mushrooms and found that the time it took to absorb all the liquid was more than double that stated in the book. I'm sure the farro was cooked enough as it was able to be broken up when chewing, but it was even still a little bitey after twice the time so I'm wondering if I did something wrong? I am in Australia. Thank you

Our answer

For Nigella's Farro Risotto With Mushrooms (from Nigellissima) the ingredients list specifies pearled (pearlarto) farro and we suspect that you may have mistakenly used the whole type of farro instead. Farro is a type of wheat (usually Emmer) and is sold as whole, semi-pearled and pearled farro. Whole farro has the outer bran husks still on. Pearling grains (such as farro and barley) is a process that polishes the grains so that the outer husks are removed. The pearled grains are more tender and cook more quickly.

It should be stated on the packaging whether the farro is whole or pearled. If it is not clear then check with your store or look at the suggested cooking times on the packaging (pearled farro usually takes 20 to 30 minutes to cook). Pearled farro also tends to be a light tan colour whereas the whole farro will be a darker tan colour.

Unfortunately whole farro can take a very long time to cook, and some people also suggest soaking the grains overnight. Even then it can still retain a little "bite" after cooking. You could try the risotto again with whole farro but you may need to cook the grains for over an hour before they start to become tender (check regularly after 40 minutes of cooking) and you may need extra cooking liquid.

If you can't find pearled farro then you could try using pearled barley as an alternative.

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