When it comes to dinner in our house we tend to operate an informal rota of the three main carbohydrates – rice, pasta, potato. Not necessarily always in that order but certainly never two nights running of the same. Sometimes this gets a bit monotonous so it’s nice to break it up a bit by having an alternative to add to the mix.
This kasha recipe which uses pearl barley as an alternative source of carbohydrate was given to me when I was a student by my house-mate David’s mum. David had enjoyed it as a child because it has a comforting, baby food like texture a bit like risotto. I cooked it a lot at university but since then, and until recently, it has lain in my recipe book unnoticed.
That was until I visited the wonderful Restaurant Sat Bains back in May (an ultra-special treat for my husband’s birthday – it’s so expensive!) and we ate an amazing dish of pearl barley, belly pork and turnip. They deep fried some of the pearl barley kernels which gave the dish an added dimension and a nutty crunch. After this experience I decided to resurrect my old kasha recipe and add deep fried pearl barley (Sat Bains style) to liven it up a bit. It works nicely so thanks Sat.
- 250g pearl barley
- 28g knorr beef stock pot, or you can use a vegetable one for a vegetarian dish
- 1 large clove of garlic
- A sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
- A splash of vermouth (optional)
- 12g porcini mushrooms
- 180g chestnut mushrooms, chopped into thin slices
- A good handful of chopped parsley
- 2 heaped tablespoons of cheese (parmesan, cheddar or a mixture of the two)
- 30g butter
- Salt and pepper
Start by rinsing the pearl barley in cold water replacing the water several times until it runs relatively clear. Then transfer to a small saucepan and cover the pearl barley with an inch and half of water and add the stock pot.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir at regular intervals and add more water if necessary.
After this time, remove a heaped tablespoon of pearl barley from the pan and spread out onto a sheet of kitchen roll to absorb any excess moisture. Set aside to dry out a bit.
Crush the garlic and add this to the pan along with the rosemary, 15g of the butter, the porcini mushrooms, the vermouth and a couple of twists of the pepper mill. Then continue to cook on a low heat for another 30 minutes until the pearl barley is tender. Again you may need to add more water and you will need to stir regularly (but it is not necessary to stir continually like with a risotto). By the end of the cooking time most of the moisture should have been absorbed. Check the seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if necessary. Keep warm on a very low heat with a lid on.
Put a frying pan on a medium heat, add the remaining 15g of butter and sauté the mushrooms until they are soft, and season well with salt and pepper. Stir these into the pearl barley.
In another frying pan heat a good cm of groundnut or sunflower oil until it is close to smoking. Tip in the pearl barley that you dried and set aside earlier and cook for a couple of minutes until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a sheet of kitchen roll.
To finish the dish, add a handful of cheese to the pearl barley and stir well. Serve into bowls and garnish with the remaining cheese, deep fried pearl barley and parsley.