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Mushroom Barley Risotto


This barley risotto is a clever way to prepare risotto that creates wonderful texture and richness. The addition of wild mushrooms, thyme, and cranberry make it a wonderful holiday side dish.


1 ½ cups warm water (for mushrooms)

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 ½ large onions, diced

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

Fresh thyme sprigs (2 Tbsp chopped)

8 oz thick sliced bacon, chopped in ½ inch dice

10 oz fresh mushrooms (crimini, shitake or oyster) sliced ¼ inch thick

1 ½ oz dried wild mushrooms (soaked in 1 ½ cups of warm water for a minimum of 30 minutes)

3 cups pearl barley (soaked in 1 inch of water for a minimum of 3 hours)

4 ½ cups chicken stock (see page 40 or use canned)

½ tsp sea salt (to taste)

½ tsp black pepper (to taste)

4 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped fine

¾ cup parmesan cheese, medium grate

¾ cup dried cranberries, finely

chopped as garnish

4 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped for garnish


Soak dried wild mushrooms in 1 ½ cups warm water and set aside. Cut any large pieces with scissors to 1-inch size. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in 5-6 quart pot. Add chopped onion, garlic, and fresh thyme, and cook slowly until browned and onions are caramelized. Add bacon and sliced mushrooms to the pot and continue cooking until mushrooms are browned and have begun to soften. Add barley and stir to toast for a couple of minutes. Add wild mushrooms, their soaking liquid, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Place lid on the pot. Transfer pot to Wonderbag for 3 hours. Stir in grated parmesan and chopped Italian parsley. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Sprinkle with 1 tsp fresh thyme and 1 Tbsp chopped dried cranberries to garnish. Difficulty Rating: 2


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