Today felt like a Tuesday. Never good if its Monday! After spending half my weekend at work for various reasons, today was a really long and eventful day. I was looking forward to nothing better than stirring a glossy silky risotto in the kitchen all day. I think I may actually prefer pearl barely here (or this evening anyway). Although not as creamy as those made with Aborio rice, barely gives an added texture and bite here. Served healthily and simply, meat free with a soft poached egg it could not have hit the spot better!
NOTE: Same risotto making rules apply…see tips here for the best!
- 150g pearl barley
- Chicken/vegetable stock (about 800ml)
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 3 large knobs of butter
- 1 large glass dry white wine
- 150g spinach
- Handful chives, chopped
- Large generous handful of fresh grated parmesan (plus extra for garnish)
- Zest 1 lemon, juice of half
- Salt and pepper
- 2 eggs, fresh and at room temperature
- Additional extras to add: Handful of rocket; scatter with fried chorizo; shaved parmesan; top with fish or chicken…
- In a large saucepan melt a knob of butter with a tsp of oil until starting to sizzle. Add the onion and cook slowly and gently until soft and translucent. Meanwhile, heat your stock in a saucepan on low.
- Add the garlic to the onion and cook for a few minutes before adding in the pearl barely. Turn the heat up and fry the barley for a minute or so.
- Pour in the wine and allow the alcohol to burn away slightly and absorb. Once this is done, reduce the heat and add your first ladleful of hot stock. Keep at a light simmer and continue adding stock as soon as the previous addition has been absorbed. Never let it get dry though. Keep stirring to release the starch to give a creamy risotto.
- Keep adding until the pearl barley is cooked with a slight bite. This may vary and will be longer than risotto rice. Mine took about 30 minutes. Make sure the texture remains loose.
- Meanwhile, blend your spinach and chives in a food processor of chop finely, with a little oil to loosen.
- When the barely is ready and the mixture is like a runny porridge, add the spinach, lemon zest, juice and some seasoning – lots of black pepper! Get another saucepan on to simmer gently for the eggs.
- Stir the risotto until thick but still unable to hold its shape – there is nothing worse than risotto that ‘sits’ on the plate like mash. It should always need a bowl!
- Remove from the heat and add the cheese and the remaining butter and pop a lid on and leave to rest.
- While resting, poach your eggs in barely simmering water for a few minutes until the whites are just set and the yolks are still runny.
- Stir the melted cheese and butter thoroughly into your risotto and serve in shallow bowls topped with your soft poached eggs!
And served with a delicious Chilean Riesling available here