Cooking can be a challenge while trying to avoid going to the store. So, when I don’t have all the ingredients called for in a recipe, I manage by making substitutions with what is in the pantry. After all, things are hard enough so why not give yourself permission to incorporate non-traditional ingredients if that’s all you have? No matter what you cook, remember it can be elevated by serving a terrific wine with it any night of the week. That’s why this satisfying risotto style barley recipe and wine pairing is what you need right now.
This hearty dish is a twist on a recipe from the lovely photo-filled cookbook, Jerusalem, by acclaimed duo Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. My addition of a bacon jam condiment from Seattle’s Eden Hill Provisions adds another layer of flavor. It is also one of the indulgences we’ve enjoyed during the stay at home order, purchased to champion the neighborhood restaurant’s efforts to keep going and support its employees. Eden Hill makes it easy to order – purchase selections online and choose pickup or delivery. I received notice that my order was ready less than 15 minutes after placing it. Plus, wine is available for purchase, so stock up!
Let’s Get Cooking
Recipe serves 4
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced (I used a red onion, but you can use whatever you have)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup pearl barley
1/3 cup red or white wine
2 tablespoons bacon jam or 1 slice bacon
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (less if you don’t like such a smoky flavor)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock or beef stock are fine substitutes)
1 jar or can crushed or chopped tomatoes, 18 ounces
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
4 tablespoons chevre
In a medium pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the olive oil. Put the onion and garlic in the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes until they become transparent. Then, add the barley and stir for about a minute. Pour in the wine, increase the heat to medium high, and bring to boil for a few minutes until the wine starts to reduce. Next, add the bacon jam (or bacon), paprika, bay leaf, salt, and stock. After mixture reaches a boil, reduce heat to low. Let mixture cook for 30-45 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent the grains from sticking to the bottom of the pan. It is ready when the barley is tender.
While the barley is cooking, toast the caraway seeds for 1-2 minutes in a dry frying pan over medium heat. Be sure to stay at attention so as not to burn them! When the seeds are fragrant remove pan from the heat, usually 1-2 minutes.
Serve the barley, topping each portion with some of the goat cheese and sprinkled with caraway seeds.
Wine Pairing for Risotto Style Barley
The great thing about barley is that it has a heartiness to it, helping it stand up to a similarly hearty wine. Additionally, this preparation includes wine (an easy bridge ingredient), savory herbal notes from the bay leaf, and some smokiness from the paprika and bacon. For a veggie oriented dish like this, I often turn to Cabernet Franc. With bacon involved, I consider Oregon or California Pinot Noir. Or, to highlight the smoke factor from the paprika, Syrah or a Rhone style wine that mirrors that smokiness comes to mind. It would also be interesting to try Malbec with this recipe.
In celebration of Walla Walla Valley Wine Month, I opened a sample of Spring Valley Vineyards Cabernet Franc to accompany this risotto barley recipe. As the first sip washed over my tongue, clouds parted, horns trumpeted, and everything seemed right in the world. Okay, not really, but this was a WOW bottle! The red wine offered all bright fruit at first, then transformed to a subtle note of green bell pepper, bay leaf, followed by chocolate. I appreciate that the wine is focused on the fruit and a sense of Walla Walla, rather than oak. What is more, paired with the barley, the food and the wine celebrated one another.
Spring Valley Vineyard
2015 Katherine Corkum Cabernet Franc
Walla Walla Valley
If you don’t have access to this wine, look for the varieties below to complement this savory dish.
GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) blend
Should you prefer to cook something simpler than this risotto barley recipe, check my Washington wine pairings for pasta marinara.