While I’m a huge fan of the big, hearty, chewy grains like barley, farro and wheat berries, I’m not as big of a fan of the long cooking times. Here’s a very simple recipe for cooking barley that uses a pressure cooker, or an Instant Pot, to cut the cooking time in half. No worries if you don’t own a pressure cooker, it’ll just take a little longer with a traditional pot.
I think the texture and chewiness of barley is really interesting. When cooked right, it has a firm shell that pops and releases the flavors of whatever liquid that it was cooked with. For that reason, I like to use a flavorful stock for the simmer and add one or two other big flavors to accompany the cooking.
In this recipe, I’ve used chicken stock as the base and added in shallots and parsley. The technique here is very similar to a risotto. In fact, it’s a good process to follow for cooking a lot of different grains. You can basically swap out barley for wheat berries or arborio or quinoa, alter the cooking times (and water ratio) and get the same results.
- 2 Cups Barley rinsed
- 1/2 Cup Shallots minced
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1/4 Cup Parsley chopped
- 3 Cups Stock
- Melt the butter over medium low in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Be careful not to brown it....you just want to evaporate the foam
- Raise the heat to medium and sweat the shallots for 5-7 minutes until the are translucent. If they have dried out too much and are sticking, add in a touch of Olive Oil
- Add the barley and toast for 7-10 minutes until you get a Rice Krispies (snap, crackle & pop) effect. You should also notice a lightly toasted smell.
- Add the cooking stock, seal, raise the heat and cook for 20 minutes once pressure is reached
- You can use either a quick or natural release once it is done. If you still have water left, put the pot back on the stove and simmer off the water.
- Fluff the barley once it is cooked and add the chopped parsley