Pearl barley risotto with prosciutto and radicchio

Pearl barley risotto with crispy prosciutto.
Pearl barley risotto with crispy prosciutto. Photo: Murdoch Books

The combination of barley and rice in a risotto gives a different result from rice alone; there is more 'crunch', with barley being a firmer grain. It is less creamy than a risotto made solely from rice, but the addition of a few spoons of mascarpone adds extra smoothness.


1.5 litres good-quality chicken stock

2 tbsp olive oil

100g thinly sliced prosciutto, cut lengthways into 1cm thick batons

1 red onion, chopped

80g radicchio leaves, washed, shredded 1cm thick

2 garlic cloves, chopped

200g (1 cup) pearl barley

110g (¼ cup) arborio rice

125ml (¼ cup) white wine

1 tbsp chopped oregano, plus extra whole leaves, to serve

2 tbsp mascarpone

60g (½ cup) grated parmesan, plus extra parmesan shavings, to serve (optional)


1. Heat the stock in a saucepan over high heat until almost boiling. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and cook the prosciutto over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Add the onion to the pan and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the radicchio and garlic and stir over low heat for about 1 minute, or until the radicchio is just wilted.

4. Add the barley and rice and stir to coat with the radicchio mixture.

5. Add the wine to the barley mixture and stir over the heat for 1 minute, or until absorbed. Add 1 cup stock and stir over low heat until the stock is absorbed. Add the remaining stock 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next, for about 25 minutes, or until the barley is almost tender.

6. With the last addition of stock, stir in the chopped oregano, mascarpone and grated parmesan. Remove from the heat, cover and stand for 10 minutes.

7. Serve topped with the prosciutto, shaved parmesan, if desired, and extra oregano leaves.