What Ancient Grains should you eat with Steak?
By Sam Wass, Medium Well
As more and more of us are ‘eating clean’ what to have as an accompaniment with a chicken breast or steak, becomes a challenge in order to keep the diet plan both interesting and tasty. Whilst veg (especially the ubiquitous Broccoli) is a mainstay on many an athlete’s training plan, ancient grains and pulses have also been rising in popularity. Along with the taste and variation they bring, they can also enhance the health benefits of a meat dish.
An ‘ancient grain’ is classed as such because they are virtually the same now as they were when they were grown and eaten by ancient civilisations. Now widely available in supermarkets and health-food shops, as well as tasting great they are low-fat, complex carbohydrates packed full of nutrients that are good for us giving us fibre, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Most nutritionists agree, they are by far the best source of energy from a carbohydrate food, and most of them keep for up to twelve months if stored in an airtight container, so there is no excuse not to have at least one or two in the cupboard ready for a super easy, healthy dinner option.
Here are a few of our favourite grains to accompany steaks and chicken:
QUINOA is a small round grain that has a slight bitter flavour when cooked, making it ideally balanced against a mellow steak such as Ribeye. With a firm texture when cooked, it is gluten free and is thought to have been discovered by the Incas. Widely available in supermarkets in white, you can also get red and black varieties.
BUCKWHEAT is a fruit seed, that is one of the healthiest, nuttiest and most versatile whole grains. Available roasted or unroasted, it is another gluten free option, which is a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel. This means it works well with any cut with a sweet taste to offset, such as a pork steak, but we think it goes really well alongside a trimmed rump steak for a super healthy low-fat meal.
POLENTA is ground, dried corn, sometimes known as Cornmeal. Its consistency can be fine, medium or coarse and it is believed it was discovered by Native Americans. It is great alongside chicken, and can be used as a healthy gluten free coating or batter on a chicken breast fillet.
BULGAR WHEAT is parboiled, dried then cracked. When it is cooked it has a lovely nutty flavour with a slightly chewy, moreish texture. It is very popular in Middle Eastern cooking as it goes well with warm spices and red meat. It also works great alongside a steak with deep flavours such as a Lamb Rump or Fillet Steak.
BARLEY is one of the most versatile ancient grains. Most commonly found as pearl barley, which has the outer husk and bran layers removed, it can also be found in flour and flake form. Barley makes a great substitute and alternative for rice, and although it works well alongside most meat, we think it is particularly good against a steak with a nice strong taste and some marbling to flavour such as Bavette Steak.
SPELT is a relative of wheat and is one of the oldest known grains. With an oval shape and full-on nutty flavour it is available whole or ground to spelt flour. The nutty taste and texture works surprisingly well with a full-flavour steak such as the Flat Iron Steak.