Toasted Barley-Onion Pilaf
Adapted from a recipe by Karen and David Waltuck of Chanterelle that first appeared in Food & Wine magazine.
- Servings: 6.
This is a great make-ahead side dish that is wonderful with lamb or poultry. Toasting the barley gives it a nutty taste and the onion almost disappears, leaving a subtle sweetness.
This is not a quick dish. Unlike most sides made with grains, rice or pasta, it takes about an hour to make because barley is a whole grain that is slow to absorb liquid. Despite taking longer to cook, this pilaf is one of those dishes that's great for company because you can cook it an hour or so in advance and it warms up perfectly.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups pearl barley
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped into small (1/4 – 1/2 inch) pieces
- 4 3/4 cups chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (seems like a lot but it isn't so please trust me on this)
- In a large saucepan over medium heat melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add the barley and cook, using a wooden spoon to stir until evenly coated with the melted oil and butter. Keep stirring over medium heat for about 12 minutes to toast the barley grains. The color of the grains will begin to turn brown and a nutty aroma will rise from the pan.
- When it reaches this point add the onion and continue to stir another 2 to 3 minutes so that the onion softens. It won't take on color but will instead get soft and translucent.
- Add the stock, bay leaf, and the salt and pepper (if you're worried it's too much pepper, start with half and add more at the end after you can taste the finished dish).
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low heat but enough to keep a gentle simmer, cover part-way, and stirring occasionally, cook until the stock has been absorbed, which takes about 50 minutes. Discard the bay leaf, add more salt and pepper if you like.
- Transfer to a bowl and serve. Can be made to this point about an hour in advance and re-heated.