Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In Which I Make Kasha Palatable

Tonight I tackled one of the biggest challenges on my weird foods list: kasha. I bought this one-pound bag of misery in the form of a grain product at my neighborhood Mexican/Polish/yuppie grocery store about a year and a half ago for reasons unknown.
Kasha is roasted buckwheat, which sounds innocent enough. I think I saw the word "buckwheat" and thought, "Hey, don't some people make buckwheat pancakes?" It probably sounded wholesome and vaguely Wild West-ish.

Well, for buckwheat pancakes you need buckwheat flour, not whole buckwheat groats, which were the type of kasha I bought. Still, Joy of Cooking called kasha "irresistible," so I tried one of the two recipes in the book, "Basic Cooked Kasha," which yielded something vaguely like brown rice only several times less appealing. I ate one serving and kept the rest of it in the fridge for a decent interval until I could justify throwing it out.

However, I still had half the bag of kasha left, and it lurked in the back of the cupboard like a portent of doom for over a year--until tonight.

The Joy of Cooking recipe used only beef stock and egg, leaving the essential flavor of the kasha basically pure and unadorned. Tonight I added a pound of ground beef, an entire onion, tomato sauce, and the strongest spices I could find that wouldn't clash terribly with the Slavic roastedness of the kasha. When it was finished, I sprinkled it with sharp cheddar to mask the taste even more.

It still tasted like brown rice, but it was good enough to save it from the trash heap. It made so much I'll be eating it for the next week.

12 comments:

Carrie said...

Wow, good on ya. I hate kasha. Being a vegetarian in Russia meant that I was served a lot of it. I'm glad you found a way to make it palatable.

Daniel said...

A one-pound bag of misery. That is well-phrased. I always wondered what the Joy of Cooking was thinking when it described kasha as irresistible.

Congrats on getting past one of the more intimidating "weird foods" on your list!!

Dan
Casual Kitchen

shoyu said...

Why am I reminded of kuskus? LOL

Working Rachel said...

@Carrie: I'm glad I'm not the only one! As soon as I'm finished eating this batch, it's done!

@Daniel: Thank you!

@shoyu: Oh, but kuskus is so good! It doesn't deserve to be compared to kasha. :)

Simple in France said...

Funny--I had a very similar experience. In France, they use buckwheat FLOUR to make yummy savory crepes. I bought about a pound too: 500grams. The first unappealing thing I noticed about it is that if you cook it and try to serve it like rice it has a stringy, dare I say snotty texture to it. Not a quality I usually look for in a food. Then I tried adding it to beef stew (which usually is a treat in our house!). It absorbed all the available liquid and created beef pudding or something. The horror. We ate part of it and froze the rest . . .indefinitely.

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Marija said...

There's a great recipe for buckwheat pancakes in Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. You put the whole buckwheat groats in milk and a couple of other ingredients to soak overnight in a blender. In the morning you blend it and pour the pancakes. They are great! And easy, just requires planning ahead.

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