This month's Food and Wine magazine has a recipe for pearl barley porridge with ham and eggs by David Chang.
Nothing in the recipe comes from the veggie boxes... but I did have an opened bag of barley in my pantry. When my mother-in-law visits, she makes a mushroom soup that uses barley, but we don't usually use barley ourselves after her visit. So I've been wondering what I might be able to do with it, and then this recipe appears. And it's from David Chang, who brought me the world's best carrot recipe. So I had to try it, despite the husband's lack of enthusiasm for a dinner with the word "porridge" in it (followed closely by his lack of enthusiasm for a dinner with the word "barley" in it).
You'll see that the recipe calls for the use of ham. I didn't use it, because I don't eat meat. However, I did buy a thick slice of baked ham for the husband to fry up small cubes to be added to his barley when it was done, but then it didn't get used because he made lamb for dinner (photo at the bottom of the post).
You start by putting 1 cup of cider, 3 cups of stock (I used my homemade vegetable stock, but the recipe listed either vegetable or chicken as an ingredient), and 2 cups of water into a saucepan, then add a sheet of kombu. Bring to a boil, then cover and steep for 40 minutes.
The recipe then says to pour the broth into a bowl, wipe out the saucepan and use it to make the rest of the recipe. Since you're going to dirty another dish anyway, perhaps it's best to just use another saucepan, if you have two. Then you can start on this next step of cooking the onions while the broth finishes steeping.
Thinly slice 2 onions. (I used four large yellow shallots instead.) Put 4 tablespoons of butter into the pan, melt it, then add the onions. Cook at low heat until the onions are golden, which the recipe says should be about 20 minutes. I forgot to time this step, but it was probably about that much time. Be careful to stir more often than I did, or you'll get some browning. (The barley turned out fine, even with this browning.)
Now add your barley. The recipe calls for 2 cups of it. It turned out that I had one and a half cups in the bag. I figured that I'd just put in less broth (3/4 of the amount of barley = 3/4 of the amount of broth), but then decided to put all of the broth into the pan. When I cook grains, it seems that I always have the liquid boil off or get absorbed long before the cooking time suggested in the recipe. So I figured it might be better to start with more liquid for a one hour cook. In addition to the barley and broth, add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover during the simmering process and stir the barley occasionally.
It ended up like a barley risotto. The original recipe says to serve it with poached eggs. As the sous vide cooker was set to too low of a temperature with the husband's lamb in it, I decided to fry my eggs instead.
Here's my dinner, the barley with two fried eggs and some scallions.
And here's the husband's dinner, the barley, garnished with scallions, with his lamb (cooked two days sous vide).
Verdict: The husband liked the barley, which was a surprise to both of us. I wouldn't bother to buy scallions for a garnish for it again; I think the recipe would be fine without them. In the summer, I'd have used some chopped chives from my herb garden, but those plants are under a lot of snow at the moment.
While I'd make the recipe again if I have barley to use, I won't be running out to buy more barley. I'm a bigger fan of David Chang's carrot recipe.