So I thought I might post a thread about my favorite ingredient. Barley.
You might be familiar with pearl barley, or ready-to-cook barley (that is probably if you are in Britain), They all suck. Seriously, suck.
Why is this? Well barley is a complicated beast, it really doesn't very much like being cooked. The starch in it, comes packaged in layers of inedible cellulose.
Strip the hulls off and you get hulled barley. That is my go-to on the barley spectrum. It takes a while to cook, think 45 minutes to get soft, So stews and soups, and casseroles oh my!
pearl or instant barley is barley that has been abused rather horribly. Most of it's flavory goodness has been stripped off to make it a convenient starch. Yes it is quicker to cook.
Hulled barley is my go-to grain. It is somewhat a difficult thing to get consistent. I don't have any connection at all with these folks, other than being a customer, but I like them:
Welcome to The Bread Beckers - Woodstock GA Natural Foods Cookbooks Georgia Nutritional Education
They took over a grains company I used to use, and when they did, results in an amusing story about barley. I thought I was buying a gallon pail, It turned out I was buying a ten gallon pail. (they were going out of business so their prices were reduced) So I have a ton of both barley, and Oat Groats, hanging out in my basement.
Drawback? Hulled barley takes a while to cook, 45 minutes to an hour, But it is great for soups, stews and casseroles. I substitute it for rice often, much more nutrition. It is also starchy as all heck, good thing is it soaks up flavors, and you can easy make a risotto out of it. If you are gonna use hulled barley in a recipe, increase the fluids, it soaks them up.
A barley beef stew is probably one of my best recipes. When I have time to make my own stock, and I give it a bottle of red wine, it is a thing to behold.
I'd be interested to know if anyone else uses my favorite ingredient.