Barley, smoked bacon & leek risotto

Barley, smoked bacon & leek risotto

10 mins
Cooking time
30 mins
Deidre Rooney

Barley makes a good risotto because it becomes creamy and starchy as you stir it. You can use this recipe as a blueprint and make many of the risottos in your repertoire with barley instead of risotto rice.

From the grocer


Quantity Ingredient
50g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 litre chicken stock
440g pearl barley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
25g grated parmesan, plus extra to serve

From the greengrocer

Quantity Ingredient
3 leeks, washed and thinly sliced, white part only
4 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

From the butcher

Quantity Ingredient
150g smoked bacon, cut into lardons


  1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and fry the bacon until golden. Add the leeks, reduce the heat and gently sauté until soft but not coloured. In a separate saucepan, heat the stock and let it simmer gently. Stir the barley into the leeks, ensuring the grains are well coated in the buttery juices. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the stock to the barley pan one ladleful at a time, just as you do when making traditional risotto. Don’t add the next ladleful of stock until the previous one has been absorbed. Eventually the barley will soften and become creamy, between 30 and 40 minutes. Add the parsley in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  3. Spoon the risotto into serving bowls and sprinkle 1 tablespoon parmesan over each. Put extra parmesan on the table for guests to help themselves.
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