2 sml chicken breasts
1 1/4 cups pearl barley
3/4l chicken stock
2 large knobs butter
1/2 glass dry white wine
1 lrg garlic clove
1 sml onion
1/2 cup shelled garden peas
Sml bunch asparagus
120g extra mature cheddar
Salt & pepper to season
Heat the chicken stock and boil a kettle of water.
Take a pan, add a large knob of butter and place on a hob at a medium heat.
Add the onions, diced and the garlic, minced. Sweat for a minute or two.
Now add the chicken, chopped into small cubes and a pinch of salt. Stir so that the edges start to go white and then add the pearl barely and mix through.
Add some of the chicken stock so that it just covers, reduce the heat to a simmer and stir continuously.
When it has reduced, add some of the wine and some more stock so that it just covers and continue to stir. When it has reduced once more, add the remaining wine and a little more stock and continue to stir.
Continue to add stock when it reduces. If you run out of stock add hot water in its place.
After roughly 30 minutes, add the asparagus, chopped into chunks and the shelled peas.
Continue to cook for 10 minutes and check the texture of the barley, continue for a little longer if you think it needs it.
When it seems about right, chewy with a little bite, add a good splash of water, grate in the extra mature cheddar, add a generous amount of cracked black pepper and stir through. Remove from the hob, place a large knob of butter on top and place a lid on to cover.
Let it sit for five minutes, check the seasoning, then serve after one last stir!
Unlike the more usual arborio rice used in a risotto, pearl barley takes that little longer to absorb moisture and cook through, in turn making it harder to over cook.
Get comfy for the stirring…!
A benefit of pearl barley in a dish like this is that it reheats quite well the next day, with the added bonus of the favours being even more infused. A good solution for a pre-prepared starter for a party or simply tomorrows supper!