While washing dishes this evening I felt a light thumping on my leg. Kind of like when a kid wants to get your attention. I looked down, slightly confused. Last time I looked there weren’t any children in my apartment. Make that no human children.
It was Julio, staring eagerly at the pot on the kitchen stove, tail wagging right against my leg. Poor guy. He waited through the entire cooking process and then our actual dinner. And now I was making him wait while I washed the dishes.
It wasn’t that I was purposely being cruel. It was just that I kind of wanted to lick that same pot. Because the creamy residue is really the BEST part of making risotto. Even a risotto which isn’t a risotto, like this one made from barley instead of rice. Which, I must add, is incredibly delicious. Perfect-winter-day-when-you-want-to-go-into-a-food-coma delicious.
Don’t worry, in the end I let Julito lick the pot.
Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Carrots
Designed by Andrés
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 cup pearl barley
3/4 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock (or canned broth, but it won’t be quite as delicious and make sure it is low sodium)
2 medium carrots, diced
1 cup chopped asparagus
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Blanch asparagus pieces in large pot of boiling, salted water for 3 minutes. Rinse asparagus under cold water and drain.
Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to low so the stock remains hot but doesn’t continue to simmer.
In a heavy pot, heat the olive oil over moderate heat. Add the onion, thyme, and carrots** and cook for about 6 minutes until the onion and carrot are soft. Add the barley to the onion mixture, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until its absorbed. Add ~1 cup of the warm stock and cook, stirring, until nearly absorbed. Add more stock to cover the barley and cook, occasionally stirring, until the liquid has nearly absorbed. Repeat 3-4 times until the barley is al dente. During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking add in the blanched asparagus.
Once most of the liquid has been absorbed (and just a delicious creamy sauce remains), stir in the 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and the butter and season with salt and pepper. Serve at once, garnishing with additional Parmesan at the table.
**If you’re confused by the lack of carrots in the above photos, it’s because we sauteed the carrots separately and then added them at the same time as the asparagus. The recipe above indicates how I would change things next time, because why wash an extra pan? Plus I think the flavors will meld better.