Friday, April 18, 2008


The weather here has turned warm. The last laggardly trees finally have some leaves. And yet the only culinary signs of spring are some pretty heads of lettuce. Instead of strawberries and asparagus, I'll give you a recipe made up entirely of dry things that have been sitting in your pantry for months.

Poor barley! Everybody's pantry contains rice--probably several varieties, even--but nobody's contains barley, except maybe in the form of beer. Plain boiled barley is every bit as good as plain rice. It takes about twenty minutes longer and you should use three times as much water as barley. This recipe is a bit more elaborate, but not very. It takes an hour or so and serves four. And it makes better leftovers than rice.

  • 1 cup barley
  • 2/3 cup dried mushrooms
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large onion, chopped roughly
  • 1 tsp. plus a bit more salt
  • 1 tbs. duck fat or olive oil

Bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat, and put the mushrooms in it. Let them re-hydrate while you chop the onion. Choose a pot big enough to hold all the ingredients and heat it over medium-low heat. After a minute, add the onions and some salt, and cover the pot. Cook for about ten minutes, stirring every two or three minutes and making sure the onions don't burn. After these ten minutes, add the oil or other fat and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook the onions until they are very brown, stirring nearly constantly to keep them from burning. (I heard that cooking onions initially without fat causes them to carmelize more quickly, but I don't really know if it's true. If you don't believe in this, then just cook with fat from the beginning.) Add the barley and cook for another minute, stirring. Add the mushrooms along with the water to the pot. Add the tsp. of salt. Cover, bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down. Cook until the barley is tender, 30-40 minutes. You may need to add more water.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

My pantry contains barley!

I made a food blog: - as a bit of explanation ideas that are "for the grandmothers" are ideas worth pursuing, while ideas that are "for the grandfathers" are ideas best left in idea form.