Barley Stuffing

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I had a lot of people ask me to share my barley stuffing recipe. Well, three people. But hey, that’s three people who are interested and might benefit from my wealth of knowledge! HAHAHAHAHHA, gasp, HAHAHAHAHHA, wealth.

I got this off the net at some point, because I really, really, hate bread-based stuffing. Was always more than happy to help mom tear bread into chunks to make it, but I’ve always had a disgust for anything involving bread cooked in meat juice. I like bread, I like meat, but there’s just something… ooky… about the two together when the bread is wet. * shudder*

I wondered, one day, what I could use instead of bread to stuff a turkey or chicken. Rice is too sticky, and brings bad memories of a not-favourite-of-mine meal my mother cooked called ‘porcupines’ (no, I’m not kidding. It’s sort of surprising I’m not a vegetarian after that, isn’t it?), so I thought of barley. I love barley. I find the texture fascinating; squishy but firm, soft but a bit chewy, and the little bit of husk gives me the smug feeling that I’ve actually eaten something with ‘good’ fibre in it.

But, I hate onions. So this is an onion free version.

Sorry for the US measurements. I still think in American when cooking! But as with cooking rice, it’s one part barley to two parts broth. Use a coffee cup to measure, who cares? This isn’t baking, there’s no need to be exact. My ‘teaspoons’ are usually just eyeballed or dumped into the palm of my hand. We all do this. I love cooking like this (and this is why I’m a terrible baker).

1 cup pearl barley
2 cups broth (I love beef with barley, but for stuffing I used chicken. I expect vegetable broth would work also)
a shit-ton of salt. As much as you feel is too much. Barley needs salt. And I’m a bit of a salt junkie. Meh, use as much as you want, but my notes from the first time said ‘more salt’ and I went a bit mad this time, by accident. I actually did an iDJ and talked to the barley: “Oh, shit. Sorry. Whoops!” But it was perfect.

Throw in about 1 teaspoon each of whatever dried herb strikes your fancy. I like sage and thyme for a traditional stuffing flavour. And parsley, because it’s green and pretty. It’s not necessary, though.

Put that on to a boil and reduce to a low simmer, covered, as soon as it boils. In the meantime:

Sautée in butter 4 minced or pressed cloves of garlic, with half a minced green or red bell pepper (I used a red one every time, and it was perfect) and either the same amount of minced carrot, 1/2 inch chunks of celery, or both (onion people, this is your chance. Just don’t tell me about it, ok?). The carrot didn’t add much but color and maybe a vitamin or two, really. I didn’t use it last time and didn’t miss it.

Once the sautéed veggies look and smell like heaven, dump it in the pot with the barley. Leave it on low and stir it now and again just to make sure it’s not getting over cooked and dry. When it gets really sticky and there’s no water left, it’s probably done. You can taste it and make sure. Just try to leave some for the dinner later.

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14 responses »

  1. I *love* barley, and I’ve never had much idea how to work with it. This might get involved in whatever Christmas dinner the Engineer and I make, since I know he’ll want to make one. Portabella mushrooms might be the main course. And I am an onion person — or shallots maybe. Porcini. I wonder how it would be with a bit or porcini. We’ll try it without first.

Thoughts? Gardening tips? Cocktail recipes? Don't just like and leave, please - I can talk for Ireland and would love to prove it!

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