Pearled Barley Risotto with Peas, Pecorino & Prosciutto

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Pearled barley yields a creamy, toothsome risotto. And here’s your language lesson for the day: The Italian word for barley is orzo (not to be confused with the rice-shaped pasta of the same name), and risotto made with barley is called orzotto. Yes, we probably should call this orzotto, but most people will think of this as risotto. In any case, it’s delicious by any name. This recipe also would be tasty with pearled farro (labeled farro perlato) if you find it at gourmet markets, in which case, this would be farrotto.

barley-risotto

1 cup pearled barley
3-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, divided
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped shallot
Sea salt, to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce prosciutto, chopped
1 cup shelled fresh English peas (about 1 pound in pod) OR 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus additional shaved cheese for garnish

Place barley in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water by 1-1/2 inches. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

When ready to begin cooking, place stock in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer (don’t boil). Drain barley, spread on a clean kitchen towel and blot dry.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and a pinch of salt, and cook 2 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add barley and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine and cook 3 minutes, until wine is absorbed. Add 3 cups warm stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook at a low boil for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender and creamy.

While barley cooks, heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto and cook 5 minutes or until crispy. Remove prosciutto from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Raise heat to medium. Add peas and remaining 1/2 cup warm stock to pan for 5 minutes or until peas are tender and stock evaporates.

Stir peas and grated cheese into barley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with prosciutto and shaved cheese..

Serves 4

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