Dried Cherry, Bacon and Farro Hot Dish with Roast Chicken from the Makeover Maven Chef Becky Selengut

Recently, I caught up with Chef Becky Selengut of the new project: Mission:Sustainable - New Makeover Show out in Seattle. The new makeover show is populated with sustainability experts in a broad cross-section of fields, currently volunteering their time and know-how to producing a few pilot episodes. Think of Queer Eye: meets What Not to Wear with an enviro twist. Read more about the project and the very cool, team here, Mission:Sustainable.

Chef Selengut shows a family of four how to make a more sustainable shrimp selection and how to make a shrimp and greens over polenta dish that looks fantastic. You can find the recipes at the show's blog.

And Becky's three tips toward more sustainable dining:

1. Use foods from around the world and other things like chocolate, coffee and such sparingly. Don’t deny yourself them, but use them like a garnish. Maybe aim toward 75% local and 25% foods shipped from around the world.

2. Eat less meat in the diet, like more Asian, and Mediterranean diet, bulking up on grains beans, etc.

3. Sustainable seafood tips - like the Seafood Watch card is a great tool, even an iPhone app, or carry a wallet card. It's constantly updated and research is available on the site. Show it to your fishmonger - have that conversation.

One of the ways to reduce our carbon footprint is to incorporate more grains, of course and Selengut shares this terrific "hot dish" recipe incorporating farro, chicken and bacon - three of my favorite ingredients. How did she know?

Dried Cherry, Bacon and Farro "Hot Dish" with Roast Chicken
Recipe Courtesy of Chef Becky Selengut of Cornucopia Cuisine, Serves 6
This is a great alternative "stuffing" dish to serve for the holidays or for a special weeknight meal. Get creative with the dried fruit you use; dried figs and plums are also wonderful.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pound chicken, whole -- giblets removed for another use
  • 2 tablespoons butter -- unsalted, softened
  • salt -- to taste
  • pepper, Fresh ground -- to taste
  • 2 oranges -- both zested, 1 juiced, the other cut in small cubes
  • 2 cups whole emmer farro
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onion -- small diced
  • 1 cup fennel -- small diced
  • 4 slices bacon -- small diced
  • 1/2 cup cherries, dried, unsweetened -- chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup pistachios -- toasted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pinch red chile flakes
  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons thyme -- chopped, fresh
  • 2 tablespoons parsley -- chopped, for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the softened butter with the salt and orange zest. Rub liberally on the chicken skin and under the skin on top of the meat (you'll have to use your fingers to get the butter to all corners.) Grind pepper and sprinkle all over the chicken. Place the bird on its side on a v-rack or in the bottom of a roasting pan. Cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn the chicken over onto its other side and cook for another 15 minutes.
  4. Increase the heat to 450 degrees and roast breast-side up until a thermometer in the thigh reads 165 degrees.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the farro. Heat the chicken stock, add farro, a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for approximately 50 minutes or until the liquid has absorbed into the grain.
  6. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel and bacon and cook until the bacon fat is rendered and the onions and fennel soften, about 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and juice from one of the oranges.
  7. In a large bowl, mix the farro, cooked vegetables and bacon, dried cherries, pistachios, eggs, chile flakes, balsamic, thyme and reserved chopped orange pieces.
  8. Transfer to a casserole dish and cover. Bake in a hot oven (450 is fine if chicken is still cooking, if chicken is out of the oven, lower heat to 400) for 20 minutes covered, remove cover, mix and continue to cook for about 15 minutes more, until all liquid has absorbed into farro.
  9. Remove from the oven and pour any reserved pan juices from the chicken into the farro.
  10. Mix well and serve dish alongside roast chicken, garnished with parsley leaves. Chef Becky Selengut with the family from Mission:Sustainable pilot episode. Bravo, are you listening?