GRANO: A New, Old Wheat Product
Also called “grano pesato” in Italy’s Puglia, GRANO is nothing more than hulled durum wheat. Grown in California’s Central Valley, Grano is a unique specialty of Sunnyland Mills, one of the two bulghur producers in the country. Sunnyland now calls it Golden Pearled Durum GRANO, due to its pale golden color.
Hulled or “pearled” durum wheat fits into that range of grains that were food mainstays like barley, farro and spelt. Grano is made from durum wheat, one of the wheat types. Triticum durum, is hard, translucent and has more gluten than triticum vulgare or soft wheat. Grano is delicate, but after hulling it turns rancid rapidly. Unless it is used quickly, it should be stored in an airtight container in the freezer to lessen oxidation.
To prepare it, the quantity necessary is put in a strainer and washed; rub it under running water until the water runs clear. It is then soaked, for up to overnight. (The longer the soaking, less the cooking time.)
Once soaked, it is cooked like pasta in a quantity of salted boiling water. Stir every so often. (Paula Wolfert, however, recommends no stirring at all.) When tender, drain not quite dry, add butter or olive oil to the grains, and either serve as is as an accompaniment to meat dishes, or with sauce like a pasta. Also, it can be cooked, refrigerated, and reheated several days later.
Grano is used as an ingredient in the classic Neapolitan Easter dessert, the PASTIERA. This is a pie made with grano cooked in milk, ricotta, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, candied citrus rind-- especially citron-- and orange flower water in a butter crust (pasta frolla). Any good Italian cookbook will have the recipe, especially ones specializing in Southern Italian cooking.