Farfel Pilaf with Mushrooms and Onions

photo by david mcchesney, on December 22, 2010, CC licensing

Yield: about 6 servings

Think of this recipe as a starting point. You can omit the mushrooms or the onions, if you wish, and add some roasted garlic instead. Grated or chopped carrots and parsnips would bring color and a bit of sweetness. I sometimes add a little soy sauce to the mushrooms when I add the minced garlic: not traditional, but it does lend richer flavor to the mix. Experiment with other seasonings too: best-quality Hungarian paprika (fresh enough to add flavor, not just color), or stir in snipped fresh dill or chives or some chopped parsley at the end of cooking.

  • About 2 cups farfel (a 12-ounce package equals 2 - 2 ½ cups, depending on the size of the farfel bits)
  • 4 tablespoons schmaltz or oil, plus additional for greasing pan
  • 3 cups chicken broth or vegetable stock, preferably homemade 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • about 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms (your choice: plain button or more exotic varieties), wiped clean with a damp paper towel, trimmed and thinly sliced (2 cups) 
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 cups chopped onion (about 1/2 pound)

Preheat oven to 350?F.
If farfel is not pre-toasted (if package is not marked, you can tell by the color: untoasted farfel is the yellow of egg noodles; toasted, it is a light golden brown), spread farfel out in a single layer in a large greased baking dish. Bake until lightly browned, 15-20 minutes, stirring or shaking pan occasionally so the farfel toasts evenly. Cool farfel to room temperature.
If farfel is pre-toasted, put it in a large greased baking dish.
Bring the broth to a simmer, then add it to the farfel. Season well with salt and pepper and stir well. Cover the baking dish (if you don't have a lid, cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil) and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the farfel is tender.
While the farfel is in the oven, heat 2 tablespoons schmaltz or oil in a large, heavy skillet over moderately high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they release some liquid, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add the garlic, and continue sautéing, lifting and turning often until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are golden-brown, about 7 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl.
Heat 2 more tablespoons oil in the skillet (don't bother rinsing it out) over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook, lifting and tossing occasionally, until deep golden. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Remove the farfel from the oven, and stir in the mushrooms and the onions. Baked, uncovered, until heated through.

Sephardic or Askhenazi