Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Barley Risotto with Bacon and Peas (and Mojo)

Oh my, this was good!

Creating this dish was also a relief.

I'd had a slow-coking blog simmering on the back-burner (pardon the pun) for well over a year and, two weeks ago, finally decided to just get on with it. I highlighted the meals on the menu planer that were to be photographed, swore an oath to faithfully write down everything I actually put into dishes rather than cooking from the hip as per usual and got  to work cooking.

The mojo promptly left. We had three dinners in a row this week which I wouldn't have wanted to share with anyone and that's a record around here.

Anyway, I persevered and kept it simple and this one's a good 'un. Toddler friendly, as you'll see from the pics, and pretty darn satisfying for the grown-ups too. I urge you to try this one. The mojo is officially back.

Ingredients to serve 4:
300g (1 1/2 cups) pearl barley
1 mushroom stock cube and one vegetable (or chicken)
(You could use soaked, dried msuhrooms - read the instructions on the pack)
4 rashers smoked bacon
800ml (3 1/2 cups) water
200g frozen peas

Put everything in the slow cooker, except the peas, with the stock cubes crumbled. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8. Stir in the peas about half an hour before serving. My slow cooker is quite fierce on high so you might want to allow a little longer but it was very well cooked after 4 hours.

Toddler approved!
A hit! My daughter had this after 4 hours when it was perfect and we had it after another 1 1/2 hours on low and it was still really good, although not as perfectly toothsome. It has the creaminess of risotto but with a pleasing bite and the flavours were really well-balanced. You could make a lot of variations on this, and I probably will.

This is a great example of cooking one meal for different family members who will eat at different times. The "window of yumminess" (technical term!) is about 1 1/2 to 2 hours with this one, as long as you put it to Low or Warm once it's done.

This is also a great way to cook barley as it takes quite a long time to boil on the stove but is otherwise a great alternative to rice. I haven't yet tried risotto in the slow-cooker but suspect I will keep on using this recipe more than classical rice risotto anyway.

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