Pearl Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Chicken

A twist on risotto by using pearl barley gives a really creamy, nutty and comforting taste and texture to this dish, and add some fresh asparagus, chicken and leek and it’s a great winter comfort food!

You will need for 4 people

2 cups of Pearl Barley (or can use 1 cup of pearl barley and 1 cup of Arborio rice)
Knob of butter and splash of olive oil
1 leek, washed and chopped
250g of washed and chopped asparagus
1 large chicken breast, slice and diced
½ cup of chopped fresh parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste.
1 to 1 ½ litres of hot Chicken stock or mixture of stock and white wine


In a large saucepan cover the base with olive oil and butter, heat on a moderate heat then add the leek, pearl barley and Arborio Rice. Sauté gently to soften for about 5 minutes then add a cup or more of hot stock. Stirring, rapid boil for about 5 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Turn heat down then continue to add stock half a cup at a time and stirring often allow the liquid to absorb. As absorption is reached and before sticking to the bottom add more stock. Continue for about 20 minutes, by which time the pearl barley should be softening.

Add the diced chicken meat, stir well and add more liquid and maintain a low simmer for about 10 minutes, continuing to add hot stock. Then add the chopped asparagus and continue for about another 10 minutes. If you run out of hot stock and its still a bit al dente add some hot water! Check it is not sticking on the bottom of the pot!!

The whole cooking process should take about 40 minutes. This can be hastened by par boiling the pearl barley on its own in which case it will not need so long in the risotto pan.

Finish with plenty of fresh ground pepper the chopped parsley and a real thorough stirring!

Cover the pot; take off the heat and leave to stand for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Covered it will keep hot for at least 10 minutes.


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