Barley Casserole
By Lydia on April 29, 2009 12:35 PM| | Comments (3)
Tomorrow is my sister Esther's birthday. Next month is my sister Fiona's birthday. Then in June is my birthday! We always each have a family party with favorite foods and cake and good prezzies and lots of aunts and cousins. (Well, Essie is at college in New York this year, so she'll be getting her prezzies in the post, but whatevs.) We have our special dinners, but we all have one thing in common every year: my grandma's barley casserole.

Its not what it sounds like, I promise. Its one of the most delicious of possible foods because instead of being dry and flavorless grain, the barley is transformed by staggering quantities of butter!

The barley is cooked a little like a risotto, but without all the tedious stirring. The ingredient list is crazy short and stands up well to substitutions. It is a great side dish with many dinners, reheats with ease, and is generally a great thing to bring to a (non-vegan) potluck.

Get pearled barley at Harvest Health; it costs a dollar fifty a pound.

1 1/2 cups barley
3 tb butter or olive oil
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 cup mushroom
3 cups liquid (the liquid thing: I use stock if I have it, mixed with water and some white wine. Don't use too much wine, or it'll get sour)
1 onion, chopped fine

Preheat oven to 350. Saute the mushroom in oil or butter until tenderish in a heavy skillet or dutch oven on med-high heat. Remove and set aside. Add the butter stick to the pan and when the foam dies add the onion and let it soften. Add the barley and stir to coat with butter. You want the barley to cook some, til it gets golden and fragrant. If you are using a skillet, you need to transfer everything to a casserole with a cover. Then throw the mushrooms in, along with half the liquid and salt/pepper and stick it in the oven. After half an hour pull it out, stir and add the remaining liquid. Put back in oven for another half hour. Take it out and try a barley piece. If it needs more cooking add more liquid and put it back in the oven for a bit. Otherwise you're done!

So happy birthday Esther! When you come home for the summer I'll make you barley and give you lots of hugs!

Lydia, how about hosting an evening of cooking lessons? Maybe a recurring event.

Limited to a small number of people, first to RSVP get in. Students pay and maybe provide the wine/drinks. You have the ingredients, as they are specific. Everyone cooks, everyone eats. Its a dream come true.

Have you ever done this in the past?

that sounds so awesome! but would anyone want to do it??? if yes, lets do right away!

It think it would be fun. But maybe it's just me.
Maybe I'll hire you for my birthday next year or something.