Mushroom and Leek Barlotto

I always thought risotto was one of those fancy complicated dishes that I couldn’t possibly have the skill to learn. It requires such precision in timing, proportions, and balancing of flavors that a hobby cook like myself just doesn’t have the training or experience for. And while I would love to tell you all of the above is true, it simply isn’t.

Basically, besides picking what ingredients you think will go well together, you’re just ladling in soup until the rice cooks.

That simple, folks.

Now shhh. don’t tell anyone, whip yourself up some amazing risotto, and then tell all your friends you slaved away at the stove for hours.

This is my healthier take on risotto: sans butter, and with barley instead of arborio.

INGREDIENTS: (for two)

  • 3/4 cups of pearled barley*
  • 1 med leek, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (combining different types = more complex flavor)
  • 1/3 cup white cooking wine
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 cups chicken broth (left over from poaching, so pre-seasoned)
  • 1.5 cups water (or mushroom water**)
  • thyme
  • salt (i used truffle salt)
  • comte cheese (or any other semi hard, sharp buttery cheese)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. soak barely in water over night.
  2. if using dried mushrooms, soak in hot water over night.
  3. heat broth and water to a boil in a small sauce pan, then bring down to a simmer.
  4. in a separate shallow 2.5 quart pot, saute mushrooms until soft. season with thyme and salt. remove and set aside.
  5. reheat pot, add more oil, then saute garlic, leeks, shallots until fragrant.
  6. drain barely and add to pot to toast ~ 3 min
  7. add 1/3 cup of wine, stirring until liquid is absorbed.
  8. add a ladle-full of warm broth into barley mixture. stir for 3 min or until broth absorbed, then repeat. ~20 min or until barely is slightly chewy, not crunchy.
  9. add in mushrooms from earlier.
  10. start adjusting for consistency/soupiness. add more salt if needed.
  11. remove from heat and plate.
  12. grate cheese directly over plate and serve!

* barley takes significantly longer to cook than rice. presoaking will cut down cooking time by at least half. it also makes for a less creamy/soft risotto, but i like everything al dente anyway.

** if you used dried mushrooms, go ahead and use the water you soaked them in. never throw this away! it is mushroom infused goodness! risotto absorbs and concentrates the broth you use. never use just straight broth sans water -> too salty

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