A spin on one of my favorite soul-warming sides: mushroom risotto. This time with barley instead of Arborio and a trio of mushrooms to celebrate the natural meatiness of fungi threefold. Fresh thyme reinforces the earthy flavors and manchego wraps it in that classic creaminess.
MUSHROOM BARLEY RISOTTO WITH MANCHEGO & THYME
3.5 oz fresh shittake mushrooms
8 oz white button mushrooms
6 oz sliced portabella caps
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tsp fresh thyme, chopped, plus more for garnish
4 fresh bay leaves
1 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup manchego, grated
1. Brush off your mushrooms. If the shittake caps are large, half or quarter them. Slice the white button mushrooms and the portabella caps (or buy pre-sliced caps).
2. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms in olive oil, working in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Cook until the mushrooms are browned and soft. Remove from heat and cut the portabella slices into small pieces. Put all mushrooms in a bowl and set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Keep heat on low.
4. In a medium saucepan or dutch oven, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add thyme and bay leaves and stir to combine. Add barley and stir until the grain is coated with oil, about 1 minute.
5. Add 1/2 cup white wine to the pot and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed. Then begin adding the warm stock to the barley, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition. When the stock is nearly absorbed, add more. Check the barley's doneness after about 25 minutes; the barley should be slightly tender but retain its bite. It may take up to 30-35 minutes -- you may not have to use all of the stock.
6. When the barley is cooked (the risotto consistency should be loose, but not soupy), stir in the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and add the 1/2 cup manchego, stirring well to combine. Serve immediately.