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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Barley Pilaf with Wild Mushrooms and Dill

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
Barley pilaf with mushrooms and dill is a delicious dish, easy to make, and a great accompaniment to any meal. Most people have no idea what to do with barley. We all know its used in mushroom barley soup and beer but that’s about it. But barley is really good for you! It contains eight essential amino acids, and according to a recent study, eating whole grain barley can help regulate blood sugar. Barley is also believed to help maintain your intestinal health. Gee, it sounds like Barley is a really fun food! This dish will have the texture of risotto, nice and creamy if done right.

2 ounces dried Porcini mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter
1 tsp olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 cup pearl barley
1 1/2 cups mushrooms (a mixture of cultivated and/or wild mushrooms works well), finely sliced
1 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken, lamb or vegetable stock
2-3 tbsp chopped dill
4-6 tbsp sour cream or crème fraîche
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak the dried porcini in about 1 cup of hot water for at least 30 minutes before cooking them. Cover with plastic to keep the heat in the water. Warm half the butter in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat, and fry the onion until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Put into a bowl and set aside. Remove the porcini from the soaking liquid with a slotted spoon. Slice them finely. Place a sieve lined with muslin or kitchen paper over a pan and strain the soaking liquid into the pan along with the stock and warm through. Warm the remaining butter and oil in the frying pan over a high heat and sauté the fresh and dried mushrooms until they have lost their moisture and are starting to brown. Add the pearl barley, onions and garlic, and give everything a good stir. Pour in the white wine and stir. Once most of the liquid has evaporated, begin to add the hot stock/mushroom liquid by the generous ladleful, stirring and adding more liquid as the previous ladleful is absorbed, just as you would with risotto. When the barley is tender (you may not need all of the liquid), adjust the seasoning, stir in the dill and serve with dollops of sour cream or crème fraîche over the top.