Toasted Barley and Mustard Risotto with Pale Ale and Bacon Nuggets

Few ingredients say “Canada” like mustard, barley, maple syrup and smoky, thick sliced bacon. It’s the sort of dish that can be kept warm for service but be careful, it’s awfully easy to snack on.  In the springtime, we like to add a few spears of steamed  & chopped asparagus at the end just before sprinkling with the cheese. 

  • 4 cups / 1 L chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp / 30 mL maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp / 30 mL Dijon-style mustard
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 4 – 6 oz slab bacon, diced into small cubes
  • ¼ cup / 60 mL unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup / 60 mL minced shallots
  • 2 tsps /10 mL yellow mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp / 2 mL salt
  • ½ tsp / 2 ml freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ / 375 mL cups pearl barley
  • 1 cup / 250 mL pale ale
  • 2 tbsp/ 30 mL chopped fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup / 60 mL chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup / 60 mL grated Parmesan cheese
  • Additional chopped parsley and shaved Parmesan, as needed, for garnish (optional)

In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken stock, maple syrup, mustard and bay leaves. Simmer 10 minutes, covered, to infuse the flavours. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, render the bacon cubes in a skillet over medium heat till golden; drain fat, discard and reserve bacon nuggets.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add shallots, mustard seeds, salt and freshly ground pepper, stirring to combine. Cover and ‘sweat’ for 10 minutes on medium heat till the shallots are translucent but not browned. Stir in rendered bacon and continue to cook for 2 – 3 minutes to blend the flavours.

Add the barley, toast uncovered, for 3 minutes till beginning to brown slightly. Pour in the ale, bring to a boil and reduce for 1 to 2 minutes. Add stock one ladle full at a time, stirring constantly. When the final ladle of stock is added, cover and simmer till the barley is tender, about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle in the thyme and parsley; stir in the Parmesan. Garnish with extra parsley and Parmesan, if desired.

Serves 8 – 10 as a side dish

Recipe developed and photographed by Chef Paul Stewart, Victoria, B.C. 

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Author: Anita

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