Thursday, December 04, 2014

Kasha Chronicles

When the weather is chilly, I like to cook stews, hearty soups, casseroles and childhood comfort food.  One side dish that sends me into a nostalgic swoon is KASHA!  Maybe it's the sound of the word, "Kasha" that I like.  It's such a foreign and exotic word.  It's also the flavor of those nutty buckwheat groats, boiled in soup stock with onions and butter that I love.  This was a standard side dish on both of my grandmother's dinner tables.

When I was a young bride, many years ago, I thought I could cook Kasha in my rice cooker.  Why not?  Buckwheat groats look like rice.  Nooooooo.  The kasha came out like a puffy, sticky mess.  There are a few steps you must take to insure perfect kasha.  First, you must crack an egg in a bowl, pour in one cup of kasha and stir it around so that the egg totally coats the groats.  
Egg coated buckwheat groats

THEN, after sauteing diced onion in a bit of oil and butter (chicken fat aka schmaltz, in Grandma's day), you dump the eggy kasha into the frying pan on high heat to dry it out and toast it.  At the same time, you've been boiling two cups of chicken or beef stock in a separate pan.  Once the kasha is toasty, pour in the soup stock.  This results in a steamy explosion, much like that of sizzling fajitas being brought to your table at the local Mexican restaurant. It's a noisy celebration!  Back to the kasha.  Cover the pan and lower the fire to simmer.  After about 10 minutes you will have the most delicious, aromatic kasha.  Oh yum!  
Many people like to add varnishkes (bowtie noodles) to this dish.  It does make a prettier presentation.  Simply add a handful of bowtie noodles to the pan when you're adding the kasha to the onions and oil.  The liquid will cook the noodles while everything is simmering.
Kasha mit Varnishkes
Pristine Kasha

Kasha is a perfect side dish for roast chicken, brisket, salmon, EVERYTHING!  
Last weekend's beef brisket mit kasha and asparagus

Hmmmm?  I'm wondering if I should experiment with KASHA LATKES for Chanukah this year!!!

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At 8:11 PM PST, Blogger joyceetta said...

I thought Kasha was buckwheat, not oats. Hmmm....

At 9:36 PM PST, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

You are correct, Joyceeta! My mistake. I will correct my post! Thank you!

At 8:43 AM PST, Blogger Leah said...

Guess what you inspired me to make tonight?


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