basted duck with wheat berries Culinary school is really kicking into high gear these days!  Every day is more fast pace and more hectic in the kitchen.  Even though it can get a little crazy and overwhelming at times, I am really enjoying the recipes we have been creating while learning new things about myself and how I can really perform well under pressure.  Since the holidays are almost here, this delicious recipe with wheat berries, pablano peppers and pecans will make one of the best side dishes.

I have to be honest, I hadn’t even heard of wheat berries before yesterday.  What I did learn about them is that they are similar to farro, buckwheat or barley, and are super nutritious with a plentiful amount of health benefits. Wheat berries offer everything and more you would receive from whole grains. Furthermore, they are known to be high in fiber, promoting a strong digestive system.  If you are looking to lose weight, incorporating wheat berries into your diet will be beneficial because they will keep you full and satisfied for a longer period of time.

This recipe is perfect for the fall and winter months because it is more hardy and pairs well with turkey, duck, chicken, etc.  In the picture above, the wheat berries are creating a beautiful bed for the basted duck breast. I know I will be cooking with wheat berries a lot more! Bring this dish to this year’s Thanksgiving feast and be overwhelmed with all of the great compliments.

For this recipe you will need:

1 lb whole wheat berries, rinsed and soaked overnight in cold water
2 qt water
2 fl oz. olive oil
3 oz. chopped pecans
3 oz. roasted pablano chile, small dice
Salt and pepper to taste

First, drain the soaking water from the wheat berries and add the wheat berries to 2 qt cold water in a sauce pot.  Bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer the wheat berries until they are tender but still slightly crunchy, about 1 hour.  If you see the water evaporating, be sure to add more until it barely covers the wheat berries.  The wheat berries can and will burn if they aren’t covered in a decent amount of water.

While the wheat berries are simmering, roast the pablano either over a gas stove (directly over the flame with tongs) or on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil in an oven on high broil.  Bake for about 5-10 minutes per side or until the skin looks charred and bubbly.  Set aside after roasting and with a damp paper towel, lightly start to remove the dark, charred skin from the pepper.  Cut in half, remove the seeds and julienne the pepper before small dicing.

Next, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan.  Add the pecans and diced poblanos; sauté for about 2 minutes.  Drain the remaining water from the wheat berries and add them to the pan.  Toss over heat until the mixture is hot.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This dish is simple and unique, and I promise you will love it!

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