THIS. RECIPE. IS. EVERYTHING.
I mean, all the recipes I post on my blog are ones that I approve but this one especially, was perfection. I couldn’t wait to share this slow cooker barley risotto with mushrooms and romano/goat’s cheese with you all!
Recently, I received Martha Stewart’s book of Slow Cooker recipes from my best friend as a post-surgery gift. Being the most thoughtful friend, she wanted to make sure I had an array of recipes that were easy to make (and healthy) while I was out of commission. She lives in Toronto and knew that once all the excitement of having people visit calmed down, I’d eventually have to cook for myself. She was right, and she was right on the money. This book has some very intriguing recipes and so far very easy to make.
As you can tell from the section of recipes on this blog, I really appreciate/love to use my Crock Pot (slow cooker). It’s usually one of those luxuries where you throw a bunch of ingredients and some form of liquid and voila, you have dinner! However, with the Martha Stewart recipes, there are a few extra steps involved with each dish, which enhances it in the end. Of course I can appreciate a dinner that takes almost no effort to make, but if it requires a little effort and turns out 10 times tastier, I’m game.
Like I said, this recipe like the others in the book, requires a few extra steps. This recipe calls for heating most of the broth separately from the barley and mushrooms. In the other pan, you’ll be cooking your mushrooms with shallots, garlic and thyme, then adding the barley and some broth. Then, everything is transferred to the slow cooker for 2-3 hours of high heat cooking or 5-6 hours of low heat cooking. I chose 6 hours of slow cooking because it was a Sunday and we were running a few errands prior to being ready for dinner. I think I say this in every slow cooker post, but I love that I can leave for the day and come home to an amazing smell and dinner that’s prepared to be plated whenever we’re hungry. I started the initial steps to this recipe first thing in the morning, then left for a while for errands. Then 6 hours later, we had dinner and lunch for the next day.
Ingredients: 7 cups vegetable broth (you can use 4 cups broth, 3 cups water, or a different type of broth- whatever you like), 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp unsalted butter, 2 packages fresh sliced mushrooms (I used cremini, but you can also use shiitake or oyster), 2 shallots (finely chopped), 1 clove garlic (finely chopped), coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, 2 cups pearl barley, 1/2 cup goat’s cheese (crumbled), 1/2 cup grated romano or parmesan, snipped fresh chives for garnish (I used extra thyme leaves to garnish).
Instructions: preheat a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker. Heat 6 cups of broth (and/or water) in a saucepan over low. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium. Add half the mushrooms (1 package) and sauté until tender (approximately 4 minutes) and transfer to a bowl. Add the other tbsp of olive oil and tbsp of butter and sauté the remaining package of mushrooms. Return mushrooms from bowl set aside to the skillet and add the garlic, shallots, 2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and thyme and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the barley, stirring to coat well. Increase heat to medium-high and add remaining 1 cup of broth. Cook for approximately 4 minutes until barley and mushrooms have absorbed broth. Transfer the barley mixture to the preheated slow cooker. Pour the heated broth over the barley in the slow cooker and stir together. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 5-6 hours. Before serving, stir in both cheeses until melted. Season with salt and pepper and serve topped with shaved cheese and chives.
Enjoy this yummy dish!