Pearl barley is normally used to add to soups and stews but it also makes a delicious risotto to which you can add mushrooms, courgettes, herbs, cheese, spinach and just about anything you would use for a rice risotto.
Barley is much cheaper to buy than risotto rice and also contains less carbohydrates (good news for those on a low carb diet).
Barley risotto doesn't need quite as much attention as rice risotto, which needs almost constant stirring.
250g pearl barley
125g chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
A drizzle of olive oil
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
50g Chorizo sausage, finely chopped
1 tbsp Creme Fraiche
700ml chicken or vegetable stock
50g Parmesan cheese, grated plus some shavings of cheese to garnish
In a large heavy based frying pan, melt the butter and add a drizzle of olive oil (this will stop the butter burning). Add the barley and stir over a high heat for about 5 minutes until the barley is golden and coated with the butter, then add the Chorizo, shallots and mushrooms to the pan and stir round for a further 5 minutes.
Add 1/3 of the stock give it a stir and leave to simmer until most of the stock has been absorbed (about 10 minutes) then add a further 1/3 of stock and simmer again until the stock has almost gone, repeat with the remainder of the stock. Taste the barley, it should be tender but still have a bit of bite. If you find it is not tender enough add 1 ladle of boiling water and simmer again, repeat if necessary.
Test the seasoning and add freshly milled pepper add salt if necessary.
Add the chopped parsley, grated Parmesan and Creme Fraiche, stir well and serve in warmed bowls with a sprig of parsley and some Parmesan shavings.