Pearl barley with artichokes, pecorino and nettle butter

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 6 people

  • 50 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 400 gm (2 cups) pearl barley, soaked in cold water for 1 hour, drained
  • 250 ml dry white wine
  • 2 litres (8 cups) vegetable stock
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 100 gm finely grated pecorino
  •  
  • Artichokes
  • 1 each carrot, onion and celery stalk, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch thyme
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 250 ml dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 globe artichokes
  •  
  • Nettle butter
  • 4 cups (firmly packed) stinging nettles (see note)
  • 1 cup (firmly packed) flat-leaf parsley
  • 200 gm softened butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
01   For artichokes, combine carrot, onion, celery, herbs, wine and vinegar in a large saucepan, add 2 litres water, season to taste, bring to the boil. Meanwhile, remove outer leaves from artichokes and peel outer flesh from stalk. Add artichokes to stock, cover with baking paper, submerge with a plate. Bring to the simmer over medium heat, remove from heat, stand until completely cool. Remove artichokes, halve lengthways and remove hairy chokes with a teaspoon. Thinly slice, set aside.
02   Heat oil in a large saucepan over low-medium heat, add onion, celery, garlic and bay leaves and sauté until tender (12-15 minutes). Add barley and deglaze pan with wine, then add vegetable stock a ladle at a time, allowing it to be absorbed without evaporating too much, until all stock is added and barley is tender (30-35 minutes), adding artichokes during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
03   Meanwhile, for nettle butter, blanch nettles and parsley in boiling water until just tender (20-30 seconds). Refresh, drain, finely chop, wrap in a tea towel, squeeze out excess water. Transfer to a bowl with butter, garlic, lemon rind and juice, season to taste, mix well to combine.
04   Stir half the butter through barley (remaining will keep frozen for 3 months), add lemon juice, season to taste and serve scattered with pecorino.
Note Stinging nettles are available from select Italian greengrocers and will need to be ordered in advance.

This recipe is from the October 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Recipe:

ALEX KEARNS, GLEBE POINT DINER AND NEUTRAL BAY BAR , DINING

Photography:

WILLIAM MEPPEM

Styling:

EMMA KNOWLES

Drinking Suggestion:

2007 MAYER BLOODY HILL CHARDONNAY. , suggested by JAKE SMYTH

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