On a recent holiday in Tuscany I sampled what can only be described as the ultimate mushroom risotto. Admittedly, it was rather decadent; rich & creamy, adorned with a crown of shaved truffles. So, after a bit of experimenting in the S-O-T-H HQ I’ve come up with my own version which I can assure you is a little more economical & saintly (to read my spiel on the benefits of barley click here).
This dish is perfectly autumnal, doesn’t require a great deal of effort & yet is still dinner party impressive. The carnivores among us can be easily placated with one small tweak to the recipe; simply cut two skinless, boneless chicken breasts into small pieces & add to the pan once the onions are softened. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the barley & continuing with the recipe.
250g Pearl Barley // 1 large red onion; diced // 2 garlic cloves; minced // 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil // 25g dried porcini mushrooms // 1 litre boiling water // 300g mini portobello mushrooms; sliced // parsley leaves; chopped // salt & pepper // zest of 1 lemon
Start by soaking the dried porcini mushrooms in a litre of freshly boiled water. This will become a rich broth that will act as the stock for our risotto. After 10 minutes, remove the re-hydrated porcini mushrooms with a slotted spoon, chop finely & set aside.
Heat the oil in a fairly large pan (I use a 12” non-stick deep pan) & add the garlic & onion. Cook gently over a medium heat until softened; this should take around 10 minutes. Add the barley and stir so that the grains are slick with oil.
Slowly start adding a little mushroom stock every couple of minutes & stir well while the barley absorbs the liquid. When you’ve about 400ml left of the stock (it should take 10-15min to get to this point) toss the porcini & sliced portobello mushrooms in to the pan. Continue to add the stock in stages, stirring all the while. The risotto will be ready after about 35min when the liquid stock has reduced to a thick, gravy-like sauce & the barley is still slightly al dente. Season to taste. You could easily splash in a little extra water if you’d prefer your risotto to have a looser consistency.
To serve, spoon into a bowl & sprinkle with the parsley & lemon zest.
GET AHEAD OF THE GAME // If you have all your ingredients prepared (washed/chopped/measured out) before you begin cooking the risotto it will be a fluster-free experience!