Barley Risotto

Modified only slightly from a recipe I found years ago in The Flavours of Canada:  A Celebration of the Finest Regional Foods by Anita Stewart (one of my all-time favourites!  ISBN 1-55192-182-0), this recipe is an amazing accompaniment to the rich braises of deep winter.  It’s also a nice alternative to mashed potatoes on any occasion!  Yields 4 x 125 ml (1/2 cup) servings.

  • 250 ml barley
  • 1 L water
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 30 ml butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 20 ml fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 20 ml fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 30 ml parmesan, freshly grated
  • 30 ml 10 year-old cheddar, freshly grated
  • kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Simmer barley in well salted water until al dente (about 20 minutes).  Drain, rinse with cool water and set aside.

Bring chicken stock to a simmer.

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Sweat garlic and shallot until soft and fragrant (approx. 2 minutes).

Add barley and coat thoroughly with fat.

Turn heat to medium-high and add ½ of the stock.  Allow barley to absorb the stock, then add the remainder.  When almost completely absorbed, remove from heat and stir in cheese and herbs.  Season to taste with salt and white pepper.


For a nice presentation, oil a ½ cup dry measure or ramekin, fill with the risotto and turn out onto a plate or into a bowl.  Alternatively, oil a cutter and place on plate, then fill with risotto and lift off cutter (the cheese will help to keep the barley in shape).  Repeat the oiling process for each plate; you may also wish to rinse the mould or cutter between plates.


~ One of Seven


  1. Glad to see a post on risotto. I think it’s often overlooked here in the U.S., even as the country becomes obsessed with Italian food.

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