This is my cheats version of risotto and does not require frequent visits to the stove top. A typical risotto recipe involves going back to the pot to stir in each ladleful of stock when the last one has been absorbed. Although it doesn’t take long to cook (roughly 30 minutes), you do have to keep a watchful eye on it. I adore a good risotto and it’s one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. I, like other semi-decent cooks, can multitask my way around a kitchen but when the lazy side of me takes over, I look for ways to cut corners. Arborio rice and pot barley were staring me in the face when I looked inside my pantry. It took me all of a nanosecond to dismiss the rice and grab the barley. Barley is a grain that not only tastes great, its health benefits are pretty impressive: helps lower cholesterol, an excellent source of fiber, helps lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, curbs hunger which can help with weight control, antioxidant-rich (repairs cell damage caused by free radicals, which can mess with your immune system). More information is available here.
1/2 cup Scotch or pot barley, rinsed under cold water
3 to 4 slices bacon, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup beef broth
1 cup water
In a pot over medium heat add a splash of olive oil and onion. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes or until onion begins to soften then add bacon. Cook bacon and toss in the garlic and barley. Stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes. Add broth and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Stir then cover, simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese and basil. Stir to combine. Serve immediately.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Barley is cooked when it has doubled in size and is soft but with a chewy bite. Add more water if it becomes dry before the barley has finished cooking. Enjoy!