Barley Risotto with bacon & thyme
This is now my favourite comfort food in a bowl! It was a very delicious dinner but had a long cooking time for a weeknight like tonight. I’m saving this for special occaisions from now on. I was pretty excited to try this recipe so here it is!
From Chef Michael Smith’s The best of Chef at Home:
8 cups chicken broth
8 slices bacon, thinly chopped
2 or 3 onions, peeled and chopped
4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup white wine
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 cup grated Grana Padano Parmesan cheese
Pour the chicken broth into a stockpot and bring to a very slow simmer over medium heat.
Meanwhile, in another saucepan, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it is crisp and golden brown. Pour off about half of the fat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté them for a few minutes until they’re translucent and soft.
Stir in the barley and continue cooking, stirring constantly until the grains are well coated with oil and slightly toasted, about 3 minutes.
Pour in the wine and continue stirring as the barley quickly absorbs the liquid. Begin adding the heated stock, 1 cup (250 mL) or so at a time, stirring constantly to allow each addition of the liquid to be absorbed by the barley before adding more. Because the broth is already hot, the temperature of the barley will stay consistently hot, which, along with the constant stirring, encourages the release of the starch in the barley. In turn, the starch thickens the surrounding liquid and makes it creamy.
Continue stirring in the hot broth until the risotto is tender and creamy. Taste frequently to judge the doneness of the barley grains. It will take about 45 minutes from the time you add the first broth until the rice is done.
Season with salt and pepper and stir in the thyme and cheese. Serve immediately.