Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Let's talk about sorghum

I'm guessing that a lot of people have had sorghum syrup at some point in their lives.  And those of us who have adopted a gluten-free diet have almost surely had sorghum flour and sorghum-based beer.  In fact, I use sorghum flour more than any other type because it seems to work as a multi-purpose flour and has a mild taste that is great in all kinds of baked goods.  However, I hadn't seen sorghum grains until I received a bag of sorghum from Shiloh Farms as part of the first place prize package in the Whole Grains Council's photo contest last fall.

Sorghum grains are round, similar to millet or quinoa but much larger.  The bag listed several cooking options, and suggested popping it.  This intrigued me, so I immediately used my favorite method of making popcorn with the sorghum (put a handful in a paper lunch bag, roll the top over a few times, and cook in the microwave on the popcorn setting).  It was good.  Really good.  It tasted similar to popcorn, with a slight millet-like quality.  The only problem was that many of the kernels didn't pop, but I'm wondering if this could be remedied by cooking it on the stove.

popped sorghum

I only had one bag of it, though, so I decided that I should resist popping all of it and try another cooking method.  And then I forgot about it for 5 months.  I recently rediscovered my sorghum while taking an inventory of my pantry in preparation for my upcoming move, and finally got around to cooking more of it.  There was a recipe for sorghum pilaf on the bag, so I decided that was the route to take.  But instead of following that recipe, I substituted my sorghum for quinoa in a pilaf with sweet potato, spinach, and bacon that I found at Sounding My Barbaric Gulp!.  First, I must tell you that sorghum takes forever to cook (about an hour and a half), so I was hoping that it would be tasty enough to compensate for the time.  And I was also hoping to share an amazing recipe for sorghum because I had an extraordinarily tough time finding anything online.  The first few bites were good, very different, but pretty good.  It had a much stronger flavor than it did when popped, very earthy I would say.  But by the fourth bite I had had enough.  I've been able to eat a bite here and there because I hate to throw away leftovers, but I can't take anymore.

sorghum pilaf

So unfortunately I don't have a recipe to share, but do try popping it if you ever come across sorghum grains (that's what will happen with the remainder of my bag).  And I bet this pilaf would be good with quinoa, as it was originally made.  I'm disappointed that I didn't find my new favorite whole grain, and even more perplexed at how sorghum could be so great in other forms.  It was a fun experiment, though!


Leah said...

I love using sorghum to bake (never knew you could get it whole!), and I always wonder why more gluten free folks don't promote it more. It seems great...it's fairly light and mild, seems to take flavors well.

Thanks for the tip on popping, and for admitting when something didn't turn out perfectly. I never completely trust a recipe blog that's entirely perfect. ;)

Katie said...

Leah - Believe me, I've had quite a few disasters! I usually don't blog about them, but I figured that I should share my adventures with sorghum in case anyone else is wondering what to do with it.

Roberto Rodriguez said...

In the process of cooking sorghum right now. Hour and a half but still tough. It's tasty but that may be the leftover rosemary chicken pieces and herbs in the broth reflecting more in my taste tests.