© Constantine William Spyrou
A lot of people are scared of cooking what is known as some of the "tougher" dishes in culinary. These include dishes like souffles, Beef Wellington, and risottos. However, each of these dishes can be accomplished with the right amount of patience and practice. Risotto is a great example of this. It seems challenging to pull of this dish, but with an hour of spare time and a lot of patience for it to cook, anyone can turn rice into this amazing, luxurious dish.
However, it doesn't just have to be rice in a risotto. Over this past week, I've been testing out different so-called "ancient grains" in risotto. This up-and-coming trend in food involves the usage of more of the older grains that people in earlier times would eat, such as barley, farro, and freekah. From my "research," I've concluded that out of these, my personal favorite to utilize in a risotto is pearl barley. It has a similar shape and size to arborio rice but with a lot more nutrients and texture. Utilizing it in a risotto just perfectly contrasts the creaminess and luxuriousness of it. It's also kind of like fried zucchini as in you can say you're eating "healthy" when you make it.
Lame jokes aside, this risotto is a seafood risotto that capitalizes on the sweetness of crabs, peas, and seared scallops to counterbalance the richness of the risotto. The result is an amazing combination of flavors and textures!
Recipe serves 1 person.
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 finely chopped shallot
1/4 diced onion
3-4 cups water/chicken stock/vegetable stock
1 clove minced garlic
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1/2 tablespoon parmesean cheese
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 cup frozen peas (leave frozen until the risotto is done!)
1/4 cup lump crab meat (dungeness is my personal choice for this, but any crab will work)
3 sea/diver scallops
Salt and pepper to season
1. Add your chopped shallots, onion, and garlic to a pan on medium-high heat with half a tablespoon of olive oil. Season and add in your thyme, and saute for 2-3 minutes until the onions are soft.
2. Add in your barley and stir for about a minute. Deglaze the pan with half of your lemon juice, then start adding in your liquid, half a cup to a cup at a time.
3. Each time you add in liquid, continously stir until the liquid comes up to a boil and is 90-95% absorbed by the rice. Then, add in your next portion of liquid, and repeat. Continue until the barley is cooked and the grains are no longer white in the center, about 40-45 minutes.
4. After adding in the last amount of stock, stir in your mascarpone and parmesean, and season to taste.
5. Stir in the crab, then turn the gas off and stir in the frozen peas. As it cools on the burner, the peas will defrost but not gum up and turn to mush.
6. While the risotto cools, cook your scallops. Season lightly on each side, and place into a pan on medium heat with some olive oil. Cook for no more than 90 seconds on each side.
7. Add in your remaining lemon juice, and toss the scallops in the lemon juice and remaining olive oil for 20-30 seconds. Take off of the heat.
8. Plate your risotto in a flat circle, and lay the scallops on top. Serve!
This is a double whammy of luxury, with the amazing freshness and sweetness of large scallops and the richness of the risotto. The thyme, seafood, lemon, and peas serve to bring the two element of the dish together by creating a bridge to the sweetness of the amazing scallop meat. Meanwhile, the risotto has an amazing rich backdrop of flavor that is highlighted by the mascarpone and will make you want more!
I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =)