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Introducing Teff

By Cook's Illustrated Published September 2016

Teff has a mildly nutty, earthy flavor and can range in color from dark brown to red to white, with the lighter grains correspondingly lighter in flavor.

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Supermarkets are increasingly stocking teff, a gluten-free whole grain that’s been a staple of Ethiopian cooking for thousands of years. Teff has a mildly nutty, earthy flavor and can range in color from dark brown to red to white, with the lighter grains correspondingly lighter in flavor. Despite being the smallest grain in the world (it is the size of a poppy seed), teff is a nutritional powerhouse. In Ethiopia, teff is typically ground into flour to make the flatbread known as injera, but we wanted to explore using the whole grain in two untraditional applications: hot breakfast cereal and savory polenta.

After experimenting with different ratios of liquid to grain for both dishes, we found we agreed with some package directions advising a 4:1 ratio, which created a thick but pourable consistency. We also preferred the teff polenta when we cooked it in broth and the teff porridge when it was sweetened with maple syrup. To serve two to four people, add ½ cup teff to 2 cups boiling water (or stock for polenta). Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons maple syrup and chopped nuts for porridge and 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan for polenta, adding additional syrup and cream or milk to porridge and extra Parmesan to polenta as desired. The teff will continue to thicken as it cools and can be thinned with extra milk or broth.