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Recipe: Pearled Barley Risotto

Photo: Bel Air Bar + Grill

If you've never used pearl barley before, here's one way to try it and make it part of your repertoire. Ditto for the Parmesan broth: it not only brightens this "risotto" recipe courtesy of Bel Air Bar + Grill, but you can use the broth to thicken up pasta sauces and give soups an extra savory depth.

Pearled Barley Risotto
Serves 4 to 5

Parmesan Broth
2 pounds Parmesan rinds
1 quart chicken stock
1 quart water (or enough to cover Parmesan)
1 head garlic
2 stalks fresh thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper

Pearled Barley
½ cup brown onion chopped
2 cups barley
2 cloves garlic chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mushrooms
1 medium julienned brown onion
2 medium julienned shallot
2 cloves crushed garlic
4 cups mix of shiitake, beech stems, hen of the woods stems, or any other mushrooms in season at the moment

½ cup fresh grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup sliced scallions
4 king trumpet mushrooms, halves and seared (optional)

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For the broth: Add all ingredients together in a large pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for at least 1 hour to infuse flavor. Strain and chill.

For the pearled barley: Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add the pearled barley and toast slightly. Add Parmesan broth in intervals, cooking like a risotto until broth is absorbed, about 40 minutes.

While the barley is cooking, sear the onion, shallot, and garlic in hot oil in a pan. Add mushrooms and saute. Set aside.

Once pearl barley is tender, adjust seasoning of barley to taste and mix in sauteed mushroom mixture, butter, and freshly grated Parmesan.

Serve topped with sliced scallions, black pepper and the king trumpet mushrooms.

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