Barley keeps a really good texture and it's pretty forgiving. It gets starchy but not too incredibly gummy when overcooked. And you can use it pretty much as you would rice. It has a nice nutty flavor so it adds an extra oomph to a recipe.
I used a Tyler Florence recipe from Food Network (I also included the recipe below) and halved it; and substituted the barley for the rice, of course. I only used crimini mushrooms, but I've used all different types in this sort of thing before, so feel free to play. I also used a little less broth than was called for. You'll notice in the recipe that you add 1 cup of liquid at a time, I start with 1 cup and add another every 15 minutes, simmering a total of 45 minutes. I used a total of about 3 1/3 cups stock. I did use about 1/3 c wine though, what can I say, I'm a lush.
- 4 cups chicken broth, low sodium
- 1 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 onion, diced, divided
- 1 garlic cloves, minced, divided
- 8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoons butteror margerine
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon truffle oil
- 1 cup barley
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
- Fresh Italian parsley, for garnish
Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.( I just added mine cold)
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 onion and 1 clove garlic, cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, herbs and butter. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in truffle oil. Saute 1 minute then remove from heat and set aside.
Coat a saucepan with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Saute the remaining 1/2 onion and garlic clove. Add the barley and stir quickly until it is well-coated, 1 minute. This step cooks the starchy coating and prevents the grains from sticking. Stir in wine and cook until it is nearly all evaporated.
Now, with a ladle, add 1 cup of the broth and cook, stirring. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to cook and stir, allowing the barley to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy, not mushy. Transfer the mushrooms to the rice mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese, cook briefly until melted. Top with a drizzle of truffle oil and chopped parsley before serving.
It turned out pretty darn perfect. I had it again for dinner tonight mixed with some chopped spinach. Holla! That was some good barley.