Sausage and Mushroom Barley Risotto


In Italy, not all risotto is made with rice. Unlike rice-based risotto, this barley-based recipe improves when partially cooked ahead, and is a convenient option for the busy cook.

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2 cups pearl barley
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 packages ALL NATURAL* ITALIAN STYLE SMOKED CHICKEN SAUSAGE WITH MOZZARELLA CHEESE, cut into ½-inch thick slices, or 2 packages Italian Style Chicken Meatballs with Mozzarella Cheese, cut into quarters
7-9 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I like Parmigiano-Reggiano)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Italian parsley, chopped


  1. Place the barley in a large bowl. Cover generously with cold water and let soak for 2 hours. Drain well.

  2. Place the porcini in a small bowl or 2-cup-glass measuring cup and cover with boiling water. Let soak until softened, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the mushrooms and soaking liquid separately. Chop the mushrooms.

  3. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy deep-sided skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until starting to soften, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until starting to brown, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the barley and chopped porcini and stir until coated with the onion-sausage mixture. Stir in the reserved mushroom liquid and 2 cups of the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally to make sure the barley does not stick to the bottom of the pan, about 20 minutes. Stir in 3 cups broth, cover and cook until the barley is slightly chewy, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about 20 minutes longer. Remove from the heat, and let rest uncovered at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.

  4. Add 2 cups of broth to the barley and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until a creamy sauce forms and the barley is tender but slightly chewy, stirring frequently and adding more broth as needed to form a creamy texture, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Mix in the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.