Saturday, April 14, 2012

Barley Risotto with Pear & Asiago

Back in November of last year I attended a cooking and tasting event with my sister at a local private cooking school. We had fun, enjoyed some wine, good food and each other’s company. Who was doing the cooking you ask? Well, Anna Olson! She is so down to earth, friendly and funny! I had the chance to talk to her and she was friendly enough to allow a photo taken with her, and got to eat her cooking and get her latest cookbook autographed. Nice…I really enjoyed the evening.

One of the dishes she made was a Barley Risotto which I absolutely loved. Most people think risotto is a rice dish, but in fact risotto is the method of slow cooking, slowly adding liquid. I have to say, this one has won me over compared to many rice risottos I have had. This is definitely a must try!

4 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
450g mushrooms, sliced
1 clove, minced
1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped
310ml pearl barley, rinsed and drained
1.5l milk
360g cooked chicken, diced (optional)
2 Bartlett pears, diced
1,5l fresh baby spinach
150g asiago cheese, grated
Salt & pepper

Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and add the onion and mushrooms, sautéing over medium heat until onion is translucent and any excess liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook one minute more.

Add the pearl barley and stir for a minute to coat it with the butter. Add 250ml of the milk and stir using a wooden spoon until the mil has been absorbed. Keep adding 250ml of mil at a time, stirring until absorbed. The barley should cook at a gentle simmer, so reduce the heat to low if needed. You can cover the pot and leave it for up to 5 minutes without stirring after each addition of milk.

When adding the final cup of milk, stir in the cooked chicken (if using) and pears to warm through.

Stir in the spinach until it has wilted. Stir in the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and the asiago cheese until melted, then season to taste and serve immediately.

Visit Anna's website

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