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Mushrooms Au Poivre with Pearl Barley Pilaf

The NYT inspiration recipe sounded delicious but overcomplicated -- I couldn't quite see the point of all the fuss that they made over the mushroom caps and decided that I would make my version by slicing the Portobello mushrooms, thereby removing some of the extra faff. I also felt that oil, butter AND cream was perhaps a bit much and decided to make a lighter, but still exceedingly flavorful, version.

Since the sauce was going to be full of flavor I decided to use pearl barley as the carb for this meal. Feel free to add any vegetables that you like to the barley pilaf - I added kale and spring onion, but wished for shredded carrots for sweetness and color. Last but not least, my store was out of Portobello mushrooms so I went with shiitake instead.

5 shiitake mushrooms (or 2 Portobello) - large mushrooms sliced, medium ones halved and small ones left whole so that they cook in the same amount of time.

1/4 cup pearl barley

1/2 bunch kale, washed and thinly sliced

2 tsps finely chopped onion

2 tsps finely chopped spring onion

2 tsps whole brined green peppercorns (if you don't have access to these you can use generous amounts of fresh cracked black pepper. The dish will not taste the same but it will work as well.)

2 Tbsps + 1 Tbsp chicken stock

1 Tbsp sour cream (optional)

1/4 tsp olive oil

Salt to taste

Bring a small pot of salted water to the boil. Add the barley and cook, partially covered for twenty five minutes. Fifteen minutes into the cooking time, add the kale.

about five minutes before the barley is meant to be ready, make the mushrooms au poivre.

Add the chopped onions, the oil and some salt to a skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for a minute or so, until the onion is lightly caramelized.

Add the mushrooms, stir to combine with the browned onions, and the add two tablespoons of the chicken stock. Lower the heat and cook for three minutes, stirring from time to time. The chicken stock will reduce to a sticky liquid.

Three minutes into the cooking time, add the peppercorns (or pepper) and one tablespoon of the water from the barley. Cook for an additional minute.

Drain the barley-kale mixture. Using the pan that it was cooked in, cook the spring onion in the remaining tablespoon of chicken stock. Add the barley-kale mixture back into the pan and stir to distribute the chicken stock and the spring onions throughout. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Add the sour cream (if using) to the pan containing the mushrooms and heat just until the sour cream is warmed through. If not using sour cream, you may want to add some additional chicken stock at this point if you want a bit of a sauce.

Spoon the barley-kale mixture and the mushroom mixture into a bowl and stir to combine.

This looks very 1970s, hippy-dippy, earthy-crunchy, but was surprisingly flavorful and interesting.

Inspiration recipe, here.


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