Monday, 14 May 2012
Pearl barley risotto
My sister sent me this recipe and I was going to put it somewhere on my mile long to-cook list. For some reason, the more I thought about it, the higher on the list it rose. I haven't cooked much with barley, so I was eager to give it a try. I did a few tweaks to the original recipe, the major one being the addition of dried mushrooms. My mum sent me dried funnel chanterelles she picked and dried herself, so I wanted to find some recipes I could use them in. Risotto and mushrooms go together like me and chocolate, so I thought I would give it a try. Funnel chanterelle is a mushroom which commonly grows in Finnish forests. I have no idea whether you can get it in the UK, but I'm sure any dried mushroom will give the risotto a very nice, earthy flavour. I also thought that the rather strong taste of dried mushrooms would go better with beef stock than chicken stock. The downside to this is that the colour gets a bit soggy and dark, whereas chicken stock would result in a beautiful and white dish. But taste-wise, I think it was a good substitution. This dish certainly is nowhere close to being low carb, but oh well. I'll be extra low carb tomorrow. Maybe...
Mushroom and pearl barley risotto (serves 3):
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tbsp rapeseed oil
200g (1 cup, 2.5dl) pearl barley
20g dried funnel chanterelle or other dried mushrooms
1.5 l beef stock
40g (60ml) grated parmesan
a few tbsp finely chopped parsley and mint
Soak the dried mushrooms in water for about half an hour (water volume should be around 2-3 times the volume of the mushrooms). Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes on medium heat until translucent but not brown. Add the barley and fry for another few minutes. Add mushrooms and the water they have been soaking in. Then start adding the stock, about 100ml at a time and let it absorb into the barley before adding more. You can keep the stock at a low simmer in another saucepan, or as I do because I'm lazy, just boil the water in a kettle, then add the stock cubes. Although technically it's not boiling, it keeps quite hot for a long time. I don't think this has too much of an effect on the result, but I'm sure the masters of classic cooking would find this a sin. When you are nearing the end of the stock, keep testing the barley, you want it to still have a bit of chew in it and not go completely limp. When satisfied with the consistency of the barley, add parmesan and herbs and serve immediately with some black pepper on top.
One serving contains 350 kcal (19g fat, 37g carbs, 10g protein).
I really like the texture and the taste of the barley. It's a good substitute for rice in many recipes, and I already have a few ideas of things I want to try, so keep an eye out for more barley recipes soonish. The risotto wasn't nearly as creamy as it would be if made from rice, but for me, the texture of the barley more than makes up for this shortcoming. And of course the parmesan adds a bit of creaminess. Also, I was really surprised how well the mint went with the beef stock and mushrooms, it really added a different flavour compared to risottos made from chicken stock. Although the taste was much stronger, I think it complimented the mushrooms and barley well, and was not stuffy or heavy at all.