No.83 Mushroom and Pearl Barley “Orzotto”

Yes, I have used an Italian name for this but I imagine some highlander making a very similar “orzotto” with what he had in his pantry. Orzotto is simply pearl barley cooked the same way as a risotto.

Pearl barley is a really underused grain. Prior to wheat and oats, pearl barley was the stable of a Scottish diet. It is cheap, will definitely leave you feeling full and is very hard to cook wrong, it just needs time. I use it in soups, cooked and cooled in salads and as a side dish.

Time: 50 minutes

Serves: 4

200g of Pearl Barley

250g of Chestnut Mushrooms

25g of Dried Mushrooms

1 Onion

1.5L of Vegetable/Chicken Stock

50ml of Whiskey/Brandy

25g of Butter

Rapeseed Oil


  1. Dice the onion and add to a large pot. Add some oil and sweat for 5 minutes.
  2. Chop the garlic finely and add the pot followed by the pearl barley and toast on a medium heat for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the brandy/whiskey and a dash of the stock for 30 seconds then add 500ml of the stock. Simmer. The barley will take 40-45 minutes to cook. Continue to add the remaining stock as it is being absorbed.
  4. Finely chop the dried mushrooms and add.
  5. Quarter your chestnut mushrooms and add to a frying pan. Do not add any oil but heat the pan to medium heat. Leave the mushrooms for 10 minutes to brown and for any water from the mushrooms to evaporate. If you stir the mushrooms you won’t get the browning and miss out on the flavour. 
  6. Once the mushrooms have browned remove from the heat and stir in the butter, season with salt and pepper.
  7. After the barley is cooked, add half the mushrooms. Salt and pepper
  8. Serve with the remaining mushrooms on top.


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