Especially for this take on the popular dish usually made with rice, chef Alison Swope suggests using the richest stock possible as a base. Enriching a store-bought chicken broth by cooking it with chicken parts works well and imparts more flavor than using water as the liquid base.
- 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth or water, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Bring the chicken broth or water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; remove from the heat and set aside.
Heat the oil in a separate medium saucepan over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and garlic; cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the barley, thyme, bay leaf and 2 cups of the hot chicken broth or water. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low and cook, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes, until most of the broth has been absorbed. Add the remaining broth a half-cup at a time, stirring often and allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more, until the barley is tender, which will take about 30 minutes (about 45 minutes total; you might need to add as much as 1/2 cup extra liquid to make sure the barley is tender). Discard the bay leaf. Add the Parmesan cheese, stirring to mix well. Divide among individual shallow bowls and serve immediately.
From chef Alison Swope.
Tested by Pam Kendrick.
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