Now for something different, I blog about something that isn’t sweet! I haven’t blogged about main meals for a while as 1) I haven’t cooked anything particularly exciting 2) by the time we eat in the evening we just want to eat, presentation and faffing with cameras is low down on our priorities.
I’ve been wanting to make a risotto sans rice since I ate a delicious spelt risotto at River Cottage. I managed to pick up some spelt grain risotto when I visited River Cottage Canteen, but since returning I’ve found it nigh on impossible to find spelt grain for sale. I’ve scoured health food stores and even a vegan wholefood shop (which is usually great for this type of thing). When I enquired about it I was told “they don’t sell it as their customers have no call for it” making me think I had committed a huge vegan faux pas. Given that spelt grain seems to be as rare as hen’s teeth I had to settle for a similar grain – barley.
Barley is being peddled as the new “Superfood” due to it’s low GI, high fibre qualities and because of this has the ability to lower cholesterol along with being a good source of niacin. The main reason for us eating it is that it is filling and I like the taste of it. It does make a great replacement for the traditional rice in risotto. I also like barley in soups.
To make this I also used something called Souper Mix. It’s a veg stock recipe from River Cottage Preserves Handbook in which you preserve finely diced stock vegetables & herbs in salt then rehydrate them in boiling water to make a stock. It’s a fantastic way of using up lots of vegetables and makes a really flavoursome stock. I can’t find the recipe anywhere online so plan to blog about it in the near future. The photo another prime example of my inability to finely dice vegetables, check out the onions – absolutely shocking. I really should just whack them in the food processor.
This risotto is based my traditional risotto recipe, the only difference really being is that it takes longer for the barley to soak up the stock. By using the some of the leftovers from Sunday’s Roast Chicken you can truly call this Economy Gastronomy.
Chicken, Pea & Barley Risotto
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
150ml white wine
500ml vegetable stock (chicken stock will also do)
leftover Roast Chicken
Handful of peas
knob of butter
1) Gently fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a deep saucepan for 3 min. Add the barley and stir for a further 2-3 until the barley begins to brown.
2) Pour in the wine and turn up the heat until the wine is absorbed. Gradually add stock 1 ladle at a time, each time waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. After the 2nd ladle add the chicken. When you have one ladle of stock left, add the peas, thyme and seasoning.
3) The risotto is ready once all the stock has been absorbed and the barley has a very slight bite. If you need it add more stock. Stir in the butter. Leave for 2-3 min before serving.