My mom in her generosity gifted a huge brown bag full of organic millet to our family. Now to most people this gift would seem a bit strange, but not to me. If you only had the pleasure of knowing my mom. But more on that later in another post. I grew up on millet, steamed and eaten like hot cereal, and it was a traditional meal eaten during general conference weekend. However, I had never actually cooked millet myself. So now that I had this big bag I thought I would brew up a batch. How hard could it be? My kids and I eat 7-grain cereal most mornings, I’m a fan of steamed brown rice, and I watched my mom make it numerous times, so I confidently got out my pan and started the boiling water. I really turned on the enthusiasm while I was preparing breakfast that morning, recounting to the kids various memories of breakfasts my mom used to make and about how much we as kids all loved millet, as would they.
My kids looked at me like I was trying to poison them when I gave them big bowls of it mixed with a little milk and honey. Their worst fears were confirmed when they actually took a bite (after many threats and bribes) and tried to chew on the hard little kernels. With pained expressions they showed their disgust by chewing as fast as they could and with open mouths, filling the kitchen with a noise that sounded like they were eating corn nuts.
I thought they were exaggerating until I tried a spoonful of my own bowl of millet. I admit the poor results were not too surprising. I had no idea how to really cook it and just guessed on the proportions of millet to liquid, apparently confirming again to my kids and husband that I’m not so great at numbers. More than a month has gone by, and the brown bag still sits on my counter. Every so often I find Tyson sneaking to the bag to dip his hands in and let the tiny balls run through his fingers.
With that background in place, I give you now the fruit of my search and experimentation for ways to use this nutritious food, now confident that I can prepare it in a way that is healthy and delicious. If you have never used millet or don’t know much about it, give it a try, as it is high in many essential amino acids and is a great alternative to rice. The grain kernels are very small, round, and usually ivory colored or yellow, though some varieties are darker. The lack of gluten and a rather bland flavor may account for the anonymity of this grain here in the United States, but it’s alkaline content is higher than other grains and makes it one of the most easily digestible grains available. It also has a higher iron content than any other grain but amaranth. It swells a great deal when cooked and supplies more servings per pound than any other grain. When cooked it yields a fluffy cereal high in protein, iron, magnesium and potassium. If you want to store millet in your food storage, it can be kept for over two years in air tight containers.
In it’s most basic form, steamed, one cup of dry millet yields three cups of cooked. This is one of the more mush-inclined grains, but if you follow these directions, you stand a good chance of having differentiated millet particles instead of paste.
- 1 C millet
- 3 C water or chicken broth
- 1 T butter or margarine
- Bring water or broth to a boil by itself first.
- Add margarine or butter and sprinkle in the millet. Stir briefly, and partially cover. Turn heat to low.
- Cook for about 30 minutes. Stir with a fork halfway through cooking and again at the end. (This is the best deterrent to mushiness.)
If you want your millet more moist and dense, increase the water to 3 cups and keep the lid on after cooking for about 10 minutes.
For Sunday dinner I made Korean Barbequed Steaks and served it over steamed millet and found it a nice change to rice. I also added 1/3 raw millet and 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds to my usual recipe for whole wheat bread and it turned out really well.