Did you guys watch 30 Rock last night? I thought they were talking about me for a minute, but it was an actual guy with food in his beard. Anyway, no story behind today's recipe, just some really delicious food. I made risotto with barley instead of arborio rice and was surprised to find out it was just as good, if not better than the original (and better for you). It's nothing new, the idea has been going around on blogs for years, but for some reason I didn't think it would taste very good. It was super creamy, had a beautiful texture, and a slightly nutty flavor. I made mine with brussel sprouts and goat cheese.
Here is some of that awesome pancetta I made.
Add the onions, then the barley. Same as normal risotto! The only difference was I first soaked the barley for an hour in cold water.
Lots of thyme about 30 minutes into the cooking. Barley takes a bit longer than arborio. About 45 minutes total.
The brussel sprout leaves went in with about 7 minutes left.
This is the goat cheese. I broiled it to brown, which does a few things. First, it causes the cheese to stay in chunks and not just melt into the risotto. Second, it adds a nice browned cheese flavor!
This was way better than I expected. It was rich and savory from the homemade pancetta, tangy from the goat cheese and meltingly creamy from the risotto process.
First soak a cup of rinsed barley in cold water for about an hour. Be sure to have a lot of water because the barley will expand. Add some chopped bacon or pancetta to a pot. when it is browned, add onions. When they are soft, add the drained barley. 3 minutes later add 2/3 cup of white wine. Just like normal risotto, slowly add a ladle full of hot chicken stock as the liquid evaporates and is absorbed into the barley. Also keep stirring. Keep it at a slow simmer. At about 25 minutes, add thyme. At about 38 minutes, add brussel sprouts, broken into leaves. When the barley is nice and tender, and the sprouts wilted, remove from heat and add broiled goat cheese. Serve hot! You should end up using about 6 or 7 cups of chicken stock total.