Sorghum the Super Grain

Fresh off a weekend celebrating the life of an amazing man whose life was dedicated to history and telling it’s story, one quick glance at a pantry shelf has ME digging into some history books this morning (okay, not really history books, rather history as told by Google.) Yet, nonetheless, what caught my eye on that pantry shelf was a very old looking, seldom used bottle of sorghum syrup.

What Google told me about the history of sorghum wasn’t all that exciting, not like it’s super-grain competitor farro which claims to be the “grain of the legions” which was given to the Roman soldiers as a part of their daily ration. However, the first known reference to sorghum in America would have made Uncle Al proud – it was Benjamin Franklin who wrote about its application in producing brooms – hungry yet?

Ironically, I have my own sorghum story to tell, it dates back to 2007 in Winston-Salem, NC where I unknowingly had just received my first review. It was a great review for the restaurant, the critic did her homework coming in on several occasions before writing us up, but the only thing I remember was the paragraph on her visit for lunch and the “gluttonous and heavy meal she was still digesting.”

We just introduced an ala carte menu where you could order wonderful local proteins and sides of (mainly) vegetables fresh off a farmers pick-up truck, and grains from the famous Anson Mills for the table. But (of course)… she decided to try the Sorghum Lacquered Short Rib, Mac & Cheese and Moravian Sugar Cake Bread Pudding.

The best way I felt we could get this short rib “lacquered” was to deep fry it and dip it in the sauce before putting it into the wood oven. I will never forget the owner’s (who is also a chef) response when he read it (read this in your best southern accent as I feel it carries more meaning): “Chef! Deep fried short rib? Really??? Come on man! Don’t do that.”

What’s ironic to me is from that “gluttonous” meal where sorghum was the star comes the rest of my article telling you all about the health benefits of sorghum, not just the syrup but the NEXT BIG SUPER GRAIN!

What makes sorghum so amazing is that it can be used in so many different ways. It’s gluten-free and non-GMO, due to its ability to withstand high temperatures and drought. It can be used cooked as a grain just like quinoa, can be ground into a flour to make pancakes or crepes, the stalks are used to make sorghum syrup, a molasses like syrup which can be used for cooking, baking, cocktails and more. It can even be popped into a popcorn-like snack. Give it a try as many are looking for healthier, gluten-free, glutton-free options in 2017.

Roasted Tomato and Sorghum Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

1 Cup Sorghum
3-4 Cups Water

1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Pinch Salt

Citrus Vinaigrette
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Orange Juice
1 Tbsp Raw Honey
1 Tbsp Dijon
Pinch Salt
Pinch Pepper
¼ Cup EVOO

The Rest
2 Cups Baby Kale
¼ Cup Crumbled Cheese (your choice)
Forks and Bowls

Cook sorghum in covered pot with water for approximately 45 minutes or until tender with a slight “chew.”

Roast Cherry tomatoes in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Combine all ingredients for Vinaigrette except the olive oil and whisk. Slowly drizzle oil in while whisking to incorporate.

Combine sorghum and vinaigrette and mix, carefully incorporate tomatoes, cheese and greens and enjoy!

Sorghum Mule

2 ounces – Bourbon
1 ounce –  Sorghum Syrup
1 ounce – Lemon Juice
4 ounces – Ginger Beer
Mint to Garnish

Buttermilk Poppyseed & Sorghum Pancakes with Whipped Coconut Cream and Blueberry Maple Syrup (gluten-free, dairy-free) – from

1/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon poppyseeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*Extra Virgin Coconut Oil to fry (approximately 1/3-1/2 cup)

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  Whisk together all dry ingredients (or the first 7) in a large mixing bowl.  In a smaller bowl, combine almond milk and lemon juice to let stand for 5 minutes.  Then, whisk in eggs and vanilla into the “buttermilk.”  Carefully whisk in wet ingredients into dry making sure to beat well to avoid lumps.

Chill batter for 20 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil before pouring approximately 1/4 cup of batter per pancake.  Once batter begins to bubble on the sides and the middle of the pancake, it’s ready to flip.  Make sure pan always has enough coconut oil to coat the bottom, so add when needed.

Once pancakes are fully cooked, add them to a paper-towel lined plate to absorb excess liquid.  Then, add finished pancakes to a parchment-lined baking sheet and store in the oven to keep warm while you continue frying.  Repeat until you have 8-10 pancakes.  Top with coconut cream, reserved fresh berries and blueberry maple syrup.  Serve warm!

Coconut Cream:
1 can coconut milk, chilled for 24 hours

Once mixture is chilled very well, open the can and scoop out the thick cream settled at the top.  You will be left with a clear syrup which you can discard or save to bake with.

In a stand mixer, beat coconut cream well until fluffy.  Feel free to add lemon zest or powdered sugar as well.

Blueberry Maple Syrup:
1 pint blueberries (reserve 1/2 cup for garnishing
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 lemon, juice + zest

Bring blueberries, water and lemon to a boil, then simmer until blueberries burst and thicken.  Stir in maple syrup and set aside to cool.  Use hand blender to puree until smooth or desired texture.

Alan Daehnke
Vice President of Culinary and Innovation
Dartcor Food Services

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