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.
Debra She Who Seeks says
I love barley too but it does indeed take a long time to cook. It has to simmer slowly to absorb all the liquid or it will be tough to chew.
Too bad this recipe ended up blah after all that hard work!
Michael Smith has a recipe for Bacon Barley Risotto, he cooks the barley in chicken stock, I bet that would add so much more flavour to the overall dish. As usual you’re a brave foodie, the ingredients in this risotto are a little too bizarre for my taste buds, I can’t believe even after all that is was boring.
Suzie Ridler says
Definitely better to overcook barely than undercook it which is why I went longer than the bag said. I really don’t know why it was so blah but, well, it was. I don’t think barley and tomatoes are that good a fit.
Ava, oh wow, yes, that does sound like a good idea and why not flavour the barley with stock. Smart!
It’s true, they were unusual ingredients which is why I had high hopes for it but it ended up being a confused uninteresting mess. So sad…
I usually eat barley in soups. I have borrowed her book at the library but did not make anything from it yet.
we LOVE this recipe in my house!
Suzie the Foodie says
That’s great Deb! Missed the foodie mark for me but glad you and your family like it.