Revisions

At this point in the dissertation process, I am nearing the point where the researching will be finished, the drafting will be done, and the most hated part will begin: revision. Sometimes things don’t seem to need to change – to have a new vision, a “re” vision, is a strange and uncomfortable thing. It’s a painful process to re-imagine arguments, to rephrase key passages, whether they are written eloquently or clumsily. Cutting out words, sentences, whole paragraphs deemed “unnecessary” or “wordy” is as painful as amputation at the worst, and stings like picking a scab at best. Adding in new material and knitting new transitions is almost as bad. And at the end, you give it away to be read by others, who tell you what else needs to be done with it. There isn’t, at this stage, much savoring.

Thank goodness cooking isn’t like that. I love revising what I’ve done in the kitchen. So here, instead of telling you what I did (which involved undercooked ingredients and a side of roasted brussels sprouts in gorgonzola sauce), I’m going to tell you what I should have done. I’m going to tell you how to make this Bittman dish into a fantastic breakfast-for-dinner hash.

37. Sauté crumbled sweet Italian sausage with cubes of butternut squash in a bit of oil. Toss in cooked farro and dress with more oil and lemon juice. Serve as a salad or toss with grated Parmesan and use as a stuffing.

Here’s how it should have gone down:

1 cup emmer farro

2 cups water

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks

16 oz. pork sausage

4 eggs, or as many people as you intend to serve

2 cups baby spinach or chopped kale leaves, hard stems removed

Juice from ½ a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

The night before you want to eat this, put the farro in a pot with the water and leave it overnight. This starts to break down the grains.

After the farro has soaked overnight (and most of the next day probably won’t hurt), add it to boiling broth and simmer for two hours, or until the grains have bloomed and softened. In the last few minutes, add the spinach or kale and cook just until wilted. The farro will still be a bit crunchy, and may or may not have absorbed all the broth. If not, drain the pot and set aside.

While the farro cooks, preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the butternut squash chunks with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast until the squash is tender.

In a large skillet over medium heat, crumble and brown the sausage. When it is fully cooked, drain off some of the grease, then add the farro, greens, and squash to the skillet and toss together, just to let the grains and vegetables soak up some of the sausage fat and flavor. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

In another, smaller skillet, heat the reserved sausage grease and fry your eggs sunny side up, until the yolks are barely runny and the whites’ edges are frizzled and beautifully brown.

Serve your hash with a fried egg on top.  With a side of sourdough toast rubbed with garlic, if you like.  Let the yolk mix with the squash and sausage and hearty grain.  It won’t take much; you’ll quickly be full. Full of warmth and goodness. It’s the right kind of meal for winter.

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