As we look ahead to the new year, we want to know- what are the next big ingredients for home cooks? We asked Tucker Shaw from America's Test Kitchen to see what ingredients he and his crew think America will embrace in 2017. Here are his Top Three.
Farro is frequently seen in restaurants, but could 2017 finally be the year for this underappreciated grain in home kitchens?
Tucker Shaw: It's been teetering on the edge of home cooking in the United States for a while. There's nothing new about it; it's a very ancient grain. However, it feels like a very friendly grain for the grain newbie. It's an entry-level whole grain because it's very easy to cook. It has such a lovely nutty, roasty, and natural flavor that takes seasoning and additions so beautifully. I find that farro is a great grain to serve to someone that professes to dislike grain. America's Test Kitchen calls to cook it using a pasta method: use a couple of quarts of well-salted water, boil it for about 20 minutes, strain it, and you're ready to go. You serve it warm, or you cool it down and serve it at room temperature. Toss it with ingredients like pancetta, a little bit of cheese, vegetables, parsley, Indian spices. Basically, anything that rice can take, farro can take.
Related Article: How to cook with farro
It's like butter!
TS: We have been busy in the test kitchen working on a book that will be coming out soon on vegan cooking. In our pursuit of a butter substitute that makes sense, we tried pretty much everything we could think of. We landed on coconut oil as our favorite. Part of the reason is that it's a fully saturated fat, just like butter. This is not your lighter version of a fat to use for cooking. It behaves like butter in that it's fairly solid at room temperature, but once it gets over 75 degrees it may start to melt. You can cut it into flour much like you would for biscuits or something like that. And if you choose the refined coconut oil, rather than the virgin coconut oil, it won't impart the flavor. That will allow you to be in control of the flavors.
Related Article: Coconut oil: The saturated fat that's also a superfood
Add a layer of sweetness and browning power to your baked goods.
TS: Oat milk is generally for somebody that has decided not to use animal products for one reason or another, or maybe they are lactose-intolerent. Oat milk is made by soaking oats in water. You may have to break them down; maybe you blitz them. You soak them in water, then filter that mash, extract the liquid, and you have oat milk. We tried this in the kitchen, and it's a big mess. You're better off purchasing it at the store. The reason we like oat milk, especially for baking, is that it has a rather high sugar content that other alternatives - like soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk - don't have. It gives you a nice sweetness that comes through in those baked good. It also gives you those lovely brown, lightly crisped edges. I have to say that is lovely on a bowl of cereal, too.
Related Article: Non-dairy milks are versatile and easy to make
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