There’s something so yummy & comforting about barley no matter how it’s cooked! A couple of months ago at a restaurant in London, I had a “rice” pudding made with barley instead of rice. It was wonderful! I could eat it every day for breakfast but it would be a guilty pleasure if I did. The first chives are up before winter is over; nice to use them here. Unfortunately fresh basil will still have to be bought for now!
6 ½ cups low-salt chicken broth or homemade stock**
6 Tbsp. unsalted “European” style butter (cultured unsalted butter)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 cups pearl barley, rinsed & drained
6 oz. brown mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed & sliced
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low; cover & keep warm. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion ; sauté until tender, about 6 minutes; add the garlic & sauté for a minute further. Add the barley; stir until coated with butter, about 1 minute. Add ½ cup broth; simmer, stirring often, until broth is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add remaining broth ½ cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more & stirring frequently until barley is tender but still firm to the bite & risotto is creamy, about 45 minutes.
Place serving bowls in a preheated 180 F oven to warm.
Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms & sauté until soft, about 5 minutes; season to taste with salt & pepper. Add the mushrooms, Parmigiano, herbs & remaining 2 Tbsp. butter to risotto; stir to combine; season to taste with salt & pepper. Place into warmed, individual serving bowls & serve.
**If you would like to make your own stock, please go to Making Stock.