Shit! What’s For Dinner?

Grain Bowls, Mac ‘n Cheese, and Chicken With Orange, Cumin, and Honey

Dishes to look forward to this week

A drawing of a grain bowl.
Illustration: Elsma Ramirez

While tomorrow is a day many of us are looking forward to (and are downright relieved about), we can’t help but feel anxious post-insurrection, as we approach a staggering 400,000 lives lost since March, and a litany of other things that provoke worry. Let’s hold onto hope and find strength for the work that’s cut out for us.

Meanwhile, we still have to eat. This week, we’ve got make your own grain bowls, macaroni and cheese, and of these roasted chicken ideas, we’re into the cumin, honey, and orange option.

Grain Bowls

Makes: 6–8 servings
Time: 10 minutes to more than an hour, depending on the grain

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white or brown rice, pearl couscous, quinoa, barley (any type), oat groats, buckwheat groats, cracked wheat, hominy, whole rye, farro, or kamut, or 3 cups wheat berries
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil, other oil, or butter

Instructions

  1. Combine the grain with a large pinch of salt and water to cover by about an inch in a small to medium saucepan. (Use 6 cups water for pearled barley, which predictably absorbs a more precise amount of water.) Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the grain is tender. This will take as little as 7 or 8 minutes with pearl couscous and as long as 1 hour or more for some brown rice, unpearled or hulled barley, wheat berries, and other unhulled grains. Hominy can take 2 hours or longer. Add boiling water as necessary to keep the grains covered, but — especially as the grain swells and begins to get tender — keep just enough water in the pot to keep the grain from drying out.
  3. The grain is done when it tastes done; whole grains will always have some bite to them, but milled or cut grains will become mushy if overcooked, so be careful. Ideally, you’ll have cooked out all of the water at about the same time the grain is tender, but if any water remains, strain the grain.
  4. Toss the grain with olive or other oil or butter to taste if you’re serving right away or see “7 Ways to Enhance Cooked Grains” (below). If you’re storing it, toss it with a couple of tablespoons of olive or other oil to keep the grains from sticking together too much, then cover and refrigerate or freeze.

7 Ways to Enhance Cooked Grains

In Step 4, use a large fork to toss any of the following ingredients in with the grains and butter or oil:

  1. Just-tender cooked vegetables, like peas, chopped greens, broccoli or cauliflower florets, or chopped root vegetables
  2. A couple spoonfuls of a simple sauce, like any flavored olive oil, compound butter, vinaigrette, pesto, or chile paste.
  3. Finely grated or crumbled cheese, like Parmesan, feta, any blue cheese, or goat cheese
  4. Minced fresh herbs, like chives, parsley, rosemary, or mint
  5. Any cooked beans
  6. Dried fruit, like raisins, cranberries, cherries, or chopped dates or apricots, with or without chopped nuts or seeds
  7. Cooked chopped sausage, bacon, ham, or any cooked meat or fish

Has published 30 books, including How to Cook Everything and VB6: The Case for Part-Time Veganism. Newsletter at markbittman.com.

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