Friday, February 3, 2012

Mushroom Barley Risotto

So back in November, the bigger half and I had drove up to Montreal for a memorable weekend of gorging on some of the finer things in life. Having no foie gras on hand (as if I ever have it on hand... the Queen of France I am not) I took a little trip down memory lane the other day, and longingly stumbled upon one of the dishes that we had enjoyed at Restaurant DNA. This particular dish was the in your face halibut head presented over little ruby red morsels of beet barley risotto. Since I am also not fortunate enough to have a halibut head on hand, a barley risotto would have to do for dinner that night.
I will disclose at this time that I've never cooked barley before. I've enjoyed it in many a soup, and of course in the above mentioned risotto, but being an expert in enjoying does not make one an expert in preparing. Still, I had bought some pearl barley a while back with the intention of throwing it into this, that or the other thing at one point in the future. I have also seen a few people preparing barley risotto dishes on television as of late, and it looked so close in preparation to a regular arborio rice risotto, that I figure I can't screw it up too badly. And as it turns out, the dish was pretty easy.
This is the recipe that I used, pretty much verbatim:
Sweating onions and shallots
After defrosting some homemade chicken stock, and setting it to the boil, I covered and let it simmer on low heat to keep warm. At the same time, I went ahead and melted the two teaspoons of butter on low heat in a nice big sauce pan, and sweated some onions and shallots as prescribed for a about seven minutes or so. When the onions looked nice and translucent, it was time to add the barley, chopped thyme, and the bay leaf.
Toasting the barley
Now in keeping with the way that I know how to make a risotto, I waited a bit before adding the initial cup of stock, and allowed the barley to be coated with the butter, and toasted a bit. As with arborio rice, I'm told that this gives the dishes texture a bit more appeal, so that it falls as intended without being too toothsome.
Adding stock little by little and
stirring frequently
Toasting complete (maybe two minutes and a couple big stirs), I added about a cup of stock, and continued to stir pretty frequently until the liquid was absorbed. As with regular risotto, when the barley took in the stock, I went ahead and added more stock, about a half cup, stirring and waiting for the liquid to disappear each time before adding a bit more. So it goes with risotto until the barley looks plump and full, and either the delicious stock is no more, or it just seems like those little pearls won't take a bit more liquid.
Sauteed mushrooms
In the meantime, before the risotto had taken all of the stock, I took a moment to saute sliced mushrooms and minced garlic in olive oil, with a pinch of salt and a little cracked pepper. As soon as the mushrooms started smelling good and savory, and had shrunk up, releasing their own precious liquid, I took the opportunity to add them to the finished barley risotto. I gave a quick stir to incorporate all of the mushrooms, and added a squeeze of lemon juice, and the diced parsley just to brighten up the dish.
Finished Mushroom Barley Risotto
In all honesty, I'll probably use this exact recipe when making an arborio rice risotto in future. It was a really solid recipe, with the later adding of the mushrooms adding wonderful texture and flavor to a nice creamy dish. The barley was also delightful, especially with that great texture that you can only really get with barley, each bite giving way to a satisfying chew. I was surprised at how creamy the dish became throughout, and thought that by the appearance that maybe it would be too heavy, but due to the use of barley, it was actually kind of light, almost like you were eating oatmeal, but savory, delicious oatmeal. I highly recommend this recipe... also heats up well for lunch the next day.

No comments:

Post a Comment