Toasted Wheat Berries with Pancetta and Roasted Apples

"I love the way wheat berries pop in your mouth," Octavio Becerra says. Made from unhulled wheat kernels, nutty-flavored wheat berries are particularly sublime in this recipe, combined with crispy pancetta, sweet-tart oven-roasted apples and a syrupy reduction of cider and cider vinegar.

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  • Servings: 8

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  • 1 1/2 cups wheat berries
  • 12 cups water
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced pancetta
  • 5 Fuji apples—peeled, halved, cored and cut into 8 wedges each (2 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups fresh apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves

How to make this recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large saucepan, toast the wheat berries over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 5 minutes. Add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let sit off the heat for 1 hour.

  2. Meanwhile, arrange the pancetta slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, until browned and crisp. Using tongs, transfer the pancetta to a plate to cool, shaking the slices to release excess fat onto the baking sheet.

  3. Toss the apples with the pancetta fat and arrange them on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake the apples for about 1 1/2 hours, turning once, until tender.

  4. Meanwhile, drain the wheat berries. Heat the olive oil in the saucepan. Add the shallots and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the wheat berries and remaining 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the wheat berries are tender, about 45 minutes.

  5. While the wheat berries simmer, boil the apple cider and cider vinegar in a large saucepan over high heat until reduced to a syrup, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and swirl in the butter.

  6. Drain the wheat berries and transfer to a bowl. Toss with the reduced apple cider. Chop the pancetta and fold it in along with the apples. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with the parsley and serve.

Contributed By Published November 2007

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