A not-so-new grain to try.

On December 15, 2011 by Dawn

YUMMY!
Guess what’s for dinner!

No?

Here’s a hint:

No, Seriously, that’s a very nice picture of what we’re having for dinner.
Oh you horrible people you. You thought I meant the parakeets didn’t you. You monster. Parakeets are for special occasions only.

We’re having Millet. That’s right, it’s not just for budgies anymore. Millet is a grain that humans have been eating for more than 4,000 years, and is still regularly eaten in India, Africa, China and (oddly enough) Russia, where it’s the basis of a traditional sweet porridge. In the Balkans they even make booze out of it (crazy Romanians will drink anything they can ferment! 🙂 )

So basically, this stuff is only new to us white westerners with our wheat fixation. Everybody else has been using it all along. And it’s good for you. Gluten free for folks with cœliac disease. Huge on B vitamins and folic acid, which is good for all of us.

Millet by Little blue Hen @FlickerThis is what it looks like when prepared. Kinda like round rice. Only prettier.

I prepare it like rice usually, as a side dish. But with one minor change. I toast it first. This is not hard. Just take the amount of millet you’re using (for two of us I use 1/2 a cup of grain), and pour it into a heavy frying pan. Don’t bother with oil or butter, we don’t need it for this. Turn up the burner to the levels of hot your mama told you not to use and just toss the stuff around in the dry pan till it changes from a pale whitish color to a darker golden shade. It’ll pop and crackle, and you’ll be able to smell it when it’s done.

Smells kinda nice doesnt it?

Now, we boil up in a little pot with a lid a cup and a half of chicken stock. You can use water or veggie stock or whatever you’ve got on hand. Basically you just want three times as much liquid as you’ve got grain. Toss in some salt and pepper. Now dump in the millet, give it a stir, turn down the heat to low, clamp on the lid and leave it alone for twenty five, thirty minutes. Leaving it alone is the hard part, as I discovered years ago with rice. I like to poke at things I’m cooking. Which means I ruin rice on a regular basis.

You can experiment with flavoring too. Just remember, millet has a strong nutty taste, so subtle isnt going to work here. I threw in about a quarter of a minced* onion and four slices of crumbled bacon and it didnt make much of a ding. But that could be the cheap bacon I used (yeah, like theres such a thing as cheap bacon) not having enough flavor. Go for bold flavors. Otherwise, it’s a free for all.  Good place to add some extra veggies to the dinner plate. You know it’s done when the grains have soaked up most if not all of the liquid and separate when you fluff them up. If they stick to each other you kinda overcooked them. I did that the first time. Still tasty though.

Leftovers toss into cold salads well, and nuke reasonably. Might be nice stirred into a soup like lentils, I’ll have to try that. And the heating up with milk and sugar like the Rooskies are reputed to do. Like oatmeal I guess.

There’s a lot more experimentation to do with this stuff. But thats fine with me, I’ve been getting bored with rice and pasta anyway.

* A mince is basically just a really teeeny tiny dice. If you aren’t comfortable with getting a cut that small, just do what you can. If anyone is so rude as to comment, you look down your nose at them and say in a condescending tone that it’s a rustic dish. That’ll fix em.

4 Responses to “A not-so-new grain to try.”

  • Yummy! 2 of the 3 of us in my house are gluten free, and I’ve never tried this. What’s your opinion of quinoa?

  • I like Quinoa too, but I don’t end up getting it too often because it’s gone up in price since it’s been getting publicity through the vegetarian quarter. It’s pretty much reached “boutique” pricing now. Hopefully the demand will encourage more growers to get into the market soon and balance the price.

    • Too bad about the marketing’s affect on the $; I hate it when that happens. I eat Quinoa as a substitute for couscous, which I loved. I think millet might be an even better one texturally, it seems from the picture you took. Thanks again. 🙂

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