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Barley Risotto with Mushrooms & Gremolata

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Serves six as a side dish, four as a main course.

  • To learn more, read:
    Enjoying Grains
  • by Joyce Goldstein from Fine Cooking
    Issue 50

When cooked as a risotto, barley develops a rich and creamy consistency. The parsley, lemon, and garlic garnish is a fresh, simple accent to the risotto’s nutty, robust flavors.

For the gremolata:
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbs. grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
For the barley risotto:
  • 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 lb. assorted fresh mushrooms (such as morels, shiitakes, oyster, or chanterelles), sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 to 7 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups pearled barley

To make the gremolata—In a small bowl, mix together the parsley, lemon zest, and garlic.

To make the risotto—Soak the porcini in the hot water for at least 30 min. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and reserve. Chop the porcini into small pieces.

In a large sauté pan with straight sides, heat the oil over high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Sauté the sliced fresh mushrooms until they release some liquid and are browned, about 5 min. Stir in the porcini and the reserved liquid, scraping up any browned bits. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the mushrooms and liquid to a bowl.

In a saucepan, bring the broth to a boil, reduce the heat, partially cover, and hold at a simmer.

In the pan used for the mushrooms, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent, 8 to 10 min. Add 2 tsp. coarse salt and the barley, and stir until the grains are coated with butter. Add 1 cup of the hot broth, reduce the heat to low, and stir frequently until the broth is absorbed. Stir in another cup of broth. Once it’s absorbed, add 1 more cup, stirring until it’s also absorbed. Add 2 more cups and simmer the barley, stirring frequently, until it softens but isn’t completely tender and the liquid is almost absorbed, about 10 min. Stir in the cooked mushrooms and their liquid and 1 to 2 more cups of broth. Simmer until the barley is tender, about 10 min. more, stirring frequently and adding hot water or broth if needed. The total cooking time for the barley can range from 30 to 60 min.

Stir in the gremolata and adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve hot.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on six servings; Calories (kcal): 390; Fat (g): 12; Fat Calories (kcal): 110; Saturated Fat (g): 5; Protein (g): 12; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 5; Carbohydrates (g): 63; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 690; Cholesterol (mg): 15; Fiber (g): 13;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Overall I liked this recipe although my final product didn't look much like the picture. When I make this again I will probably not use the dried porcini and simply add the sauteed mushrooms at the same time as the gremolata. I found the dried porcini a little over-powering but that might have been because I served the risotto with chicken instead of beef that could have held up to the intensity of the dried mushrooms. Also, I used baby bella mushrooms which I would not do again as the risotto come out quite darkish.

I made this dish as a side to beef roast. What a hit! I'd never made any kind of risotto or cooked an oyster mushroom in my life. Amazing flavor. Learned a lot. Really appreciate the recipe, which is a perfect substitute for potatoes when you want to add surprise and a tad more elegance. Thank you!

This is a terrific vegetarian entree, or a side dish for beef or game. Use wild mushrooms for the best flavor. It makes a filling meal with a green salad and fruit. If you aren't serving vegetarians, then chicken broth adds a nice depth to the flavor.

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