On every Top Chef, or similar cooking show – they always ask the contestants to create their “signature dish.” This, of course, leads me to wonder what MY signature dish would be. I think I’ve finally found the answer. Barley Risotto! I’ve made a few variations on this concoction with various mix-ins, because you know what they say – practice makes perfect. (By the way, I’m sure it will come as no shock to anyone that the original recipe I used for this came from Clean Eating Magazine). Here’s the latest iteration.
First you heat up a pot of water. You want it to be not quite boiling. Keep it nice and hot while you work on the other components.
Chop up some garlic and onions. Throw them in a pan (I love to use our cast iron skillet for this) with some olive oil and put on medium-high heat so they get nice and soft. After a little bit, throw in your barley. A couple minutes later, ladle in some of the water you’ve been heating up and stir, stir, stir.
You want to keep stirring so nothing sticks, adding water one ladle-full at a time, letting the grains soak up the liquid almost completely before adding more. Add other ingredients as needed, and watch it plump up!
Sometimes – you have to recruit a couple of helpers. (Hint: your dog and husband make REALLY good candidates for this!!!)
It’s a dish that requires a bit of patience (I don’t have much of this naturally, but sipping on some Pinot whilst your risotto thickens ALWAYS helps move things along a little more quickly.)
While I focused on the risotto, Dan and Penny cooked the chicken that would serve as the main attraction and protein portion of the meal.
The end result was a delicious, Friday-night success! It accompanied our choice of “Bad Teacher” perfectly (we took a small break from holiday films). The end result included risotto with: chicken, kalamata olives, celery, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, plain Greek Yogurt and Goat Cheese.
The cheese and yogurt get blended in at the end to create that stringy, creamy, risotto-like effect. I will continue to perfect variations on this recipe until the end of time. This time, the barley was a little under-cooked.