One healthy grain I am in love with is barley. The problem? I don’t think Reg is as much of a fan. I wanted to see how he responded to this risotto fakeout dinner in Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen: Cookin’ for Trouble cookbook, published by Random House of Canada. And OK, I was curious too. It is such a cool foodie idea. A peasant risotto, love it.
You cook 1 cup of pearl barley in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, “1 to 1 1/2 hours, adding water as needed.” That was a lot longer than the package said how to cook the barley, like double! This confused me so I forgot to salt the water and cooked it around 1 hour, adding water as directed.
The Tomato Sauce
In a large sauce pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and 1 minced jalapeno pepper. I omitted the seeds and used half a large pepper so it wouldn’t be too spicy for us. Saute until fragrant, around two minutes. Add 3 minced shallots and 1/2 tbsp of smoked paprika. Saute 5 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup red wine, stir and reduce for two minutes. Add 2 cups of canned San Marzano hand-crushed plum tomatoes (I used regular canned tomatoes I tried to crush with my hands).
Add 1 cup of chicken stock and…
… 1 bay leaf, 1/4 tsp dried thyme, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tbsp raw sugar, 1/4 tsp sea salt and freshley cracked black pepper, to taste. Stir, simmer partially covered for 20 minutes.
Was I supposed to be making the sauce while I was making the barley? Or after? What did I do?
According to the recipe, it looks like you are supposed to make the barley first and then the sauce. Which means altogether, you are looking at 2 hours of cooking time, if you make the barley for 1 1/2 hours as stated in the recipe. Some guidance here would have been helpful.
As a result, I did not want to get distracted so I made the barley first and then the sauce. It was a very late dinner and by the time the sauce was ready, we were starving!
“Shkiaffing” it Together
“To the sauce, add the cooked barley….” Perhaps if I made the sauce in a braising pan or a Dutch oven I could do that but a large saucepan? No way! I got out a large frying pan instead, brought the sauce and barley together and added 1/2 cup of finely grated smoked Gouda…
… 1 shredded chicken breast and 1/2 cup of dried currants. I turned the heat down to medium-low and delicately mixed for a few minutes until the cheese had melted.
Umm… It was kind of tasteless. And kind of… boring, to be honest. As usual, I loved the barley but did not like the combination with the tomatoes and the chicken. I think Italian sausage would have been much better. Reg was thoroughly unimpressed and to be honest, I was so disappointed. I thought I had finally found a dish that had barley (which I love) and chicken (which Reg loves) that I could make regularly. Nope.
This made a ton of food so I ate it for days! I should have made half a batch but I really thought it was going to be a winner. I can not say it is a “loser” but it really did not knock my foodie socks off and to pay $5 for just the cheese… Sigh…
I sadly give this recipe only three out of five wooden spoons.