Stewed Freekeh + Chicken with Asparagus + Lemon Oil

Stewed Freekeh + Chicken with Asparagus + Lemon Oil

Stewed Freekeh + Chicken with Asparagus + Lemon Oil, Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes by Abra Berens. Photography by EE Berger.

Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes

Make grains the easiest, healthiest, and most exciting stars on your table.

Grist is the only grain and legume cookbook you need. Abra Berens, a James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Chef: Great Lakes and the author of Ruffage, shares more than 300 recipes and variations, plus substantial reference information to help you discover the next great grain.

Grist includes more than 125 recipes for 29 different types of grains, legumes, and seeds that, in combination with vegetables and lean proteins, are the stars of the healthiest, most variable, and most satisfying meals—many of them gluten-free.

New and seasoned home cooks will want to reference this guide to start building a repertoire of approachable, big-on-flavour recipes. Home cooks will be attracted to the reference quality of the book, its beauty (more than 100 photos and 30 illustrations) and heft (125 recipes + 300 variations = 448 pages), as well as the great writing, relatable voice, author authority, unique recipe style, extensive variations, and gorgeous photography and illustrations.

THIS IS THE A TO Z OF GRAINS, BEANS, AND LEGUMES: The content is deep and authoritative, but also wide-ranging, with information and recipes for 29 different grains, legumes, and seeds: Amaranth, Barley, Black-Eyed Peas, Buckwheat, Bulgur, Chickpeas, Common Beans, Corn, Cowpeas, Crowder Peas, Farro, Fava Beans, Field Peas, Fonio, Freekeh, Legumes, Lentils, Lima Beans, Millet, Oats, Quinoa, Rice, Sorghum, Split Peas, Soy Beans, Teff, Tiny Seed Grains, and Wheat Berries.

REFERENCE BOOK: Organized by type of grain/legume/seed, each chapter offers authoritative info and tips that home cooks can use to deepen their knowledge of ingredients and broaden their repertoire of techniques. The recipes are simple, are generally quick to prepare, and use ingredients that are easy to find or often already in people’s pantries.

FOLLOW UP ON SUCCESS: Ruffage by Abra Berens was named a Best Cookbook for Spring 2019 by the New York Times and Bon Appétit, was a 2019 Michigan Notable Book winner, and was nominated for a 2019 James Beard Award. Here’s some strong praise for Ruffage:

Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes is available at and  

Stewed Freekeh + Chicken w/Asparagus + Lemon Oil

Chicken leg quarters are an entire quarter of the bird—thigh and drumstick still attached. They feel somewhat decadent because of their size and the volume of skin that gets crispy when finished in the oven. With this volume of meat, I tend to have leftovers. Simply pick the meat from the bone, discarding any remaining skin, and then add the meat to the stew for ease of reheating. Stewed freekeh can be done in the oven or on the stovetop, depending on your day—just note that cooking in the oven will take a bit longer because the heat is indirect versus the direct heat of a burner. Note: Opt for the thicker asparagus stalks; they’re easier to shave thinly.

Neutral oil
4 chicken leg quarters (2 lb [900 g])
1 cup [150 g] freekeh
½ cup [125 ml] white wine or hard cider
1 onion (about 8 oz [225 g]), thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, cut into small chunks (seeds removed, ideally)
8 oz [900 g] asparagus
¼ cup [60 ml] Coriander Lemon Oil (see below)


¼ cup [60 ml] neutral oil
1 Tbsp of coriander seed
1 Tbsp of fennel seed
1 lemon, zest only ¼ cup [60 ml] olive oil


Make the Chamomile Lemon Oil (preceding), but substitute 1 Tbsp of coriander seed and 1 Tbsp of fennel seed for the chamomile blossoms.

In a small saucepan, heat the neutral oil over m medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer, about 1 minute. Add the chamomile and lemon zest, turn the heat to low, and allow them to bloom in the hot oil until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and add the olive oil to cool the neutral oil.

Allow to steep for 10 minutes before using.

Preheat the oven to 400°F [200°C]. In a large ovenproof frying pan, heat a glug of neutral oil over high heat. Pat the chicken leg quarters dry and season liberally with salt.

Sear the chicken, thigh skin-side-down, until the skin is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken, add the freekeh, and turn down the heat to medium. Toast the grains in the hot oil for about 1 minute.

Add the white wine to deglaze the pan and evaporate the wine by half. Add the onion, garlic, and lemon chunks and a big pinch of salt.

Add 4 cups [1 L] of water and place the chicken thighs, skin-side up, on top of the mixture. Place the pan in the oven and roast until the freekeh is tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Shave the asparagus into thin ribbons with a mandoline, sharp knife, or vegetable peeler.

To serve, dress the shaved asparagus with the coriander oil and a big pinch of salt, adding a flurry of chopped parsley (if using).

Portion the chicken into serving dishes and top each with a mound of asparagus salad.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books.

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