By Frauke Meyer
3 TBSP butter (divided)
1-2 large shallots (minced) or med yellow onion (minced)
2-3 cloves garlic (minced)
– “about” 1/2 – 3/4 lb of fresh oyster mushrooms (sliced) and/or other fresh mushrooms like cremini or shitake
-“about” 1/4 cup of dried mushrooms, such as morel, porcini, chanterelle, etc. if available to make broth and add to risotto. If you do not have dried mushrooms available to make mushroom broth, then use store bought or other types of broth as listed below.
1/2-1 TSP of fresh thyme leaves (picked and chopped, to your taste)
1 bay leaf (you can use or not, depending if you like bayleaf flavour)
2-3 TBSP of fresh parsley (chopped)
1 cup of “pearl” barley
1/2 cup of white wine
4 1/2 -5 1/2 cups of mushroom broth (see method), or beef/veggie/chicken broth (warm)
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan (or tellagio) cheese
1) If making mushroom broth versus storebought broth: In a pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add all dried mushrooms, and then turn off heat and let stand 20 minutes. Strain dried mushrooms after 20 minutes, and return mushroom stock to pot and keep warm. Chop up the rehydrated mushrooms and set aside.
Otherwise, in a pot, bring about 5 cups of stock to almost boiling and then turn to simmer to keep warm.
2) in large saucepan, heat 2 TBSP of butter over medium heat, and add minced shallot or onion and cook for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute to soften. Add the fresh sliced mushrooms, chopped rehydrated mushrooms and thyme leaves, then season with salt and pepper. Cook mixture until mushrooms are tender and lightly golden (about 5-7 minutes). Add the pearl barley and another 1 TBSP of butter and cook/stirring for another 1-2 mins. Add bayleaf. Add the wine and cook until the wine is absorbed, about 3-5 minutes.
3) Add 1 large ladle of hot broth to the pot and stir to combine. Keep cooking over medium heat, stirring once or twice until nearly all the broth is absorbed. Make sure the mixture is not boiling, it should just be simmering consistently (adjust heat down if needed). Keep adding ladles of broth one at a time and stir and cook longer, continually adding broth as the previous addition has absorbed. Test the barley after about 20 minutes to see if it is “al dente”. Remove bayleaf at this time. If it’s still not soft enough, add another ladle of broth (or hot water if broth runs out) and simmer further until cooked. The finished mixture should not be too dry/sticky, as it will firm up a bit more once you add cheese. Finish the risotto with the cheese, and more salt/pepper to adjust to desired liking.
4) Serve immediately, topped with chopped parsley and more fresh thyme. I like to top the risotto with seared scallops, but a salmon fillet or other fish is also a nice addition.