Wild mushroom, bacon, and barley risotto recipe

By Diana Henry

  1. Serves 4
  2. Ready in about an hour
  3. Rating

Barley has become rather trendy; we’ve adopted the northern Italian method of cooking it like a risotto, rather than just throwing it into soup. The ingredients here in Diana Henry's recipe might sound like a strange combination but it's an earthy, savoury and deeply comforting dish.

tried and tested
Wild mushroom, bacon, and barley risotto


  1. 20g dried wild mushrooms
  2. 1 litre fresh chicken stock
  3. 15g butter
  4. 4 tbsp olive oil
  5. 150g bacon lardons or cubed pancetta
  6. 3 leeks, washed well and sliced
  7. 300g pearl barley
  8. 4 tbsp roughly chopped fresh
  9. flatleaf parsley
  10. 175g black pudding, cut into thick slices
  11. 4 free-range eggs


  1. 1. In a small bowl, cover the dried mushrooms in boiling water for 20 minutes to soak and soften, then drain, reserving the soaking liquid. Set aside the mushrooms.
  2. 2. Heat the chicken stock and mushroom liquid together in a large saucepan and keep warm over a medium heat.
  3. 3. Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over a high heat. Add the bacon lardons or pancetta and sauté until coloured on all sides. Add the leeks, turn the heat down to low, and cook for a further 5 minutes, until the leeks are soft but not coloured.
  4. 4. Add the pearl barley and the drained mushrooms to the bacon and leeks and stir to coat in the buttery juices. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. 5. Add the stock to the pearl barley mixture, 1 ladleful at a time, just as you do when making risotto. Don’t add the next ladleful of stock until the previous lot has been absorbed. (You don’t have to stir continually as you do when making risotto, but you do need to stir from time to time to encourage the starch to come out of the barley.) Eventually the barley will soften and become creamy – it should take about 30-40 minutes. If you don’t have enough stock, just use water. Stir in the parsley during the last few minutes of cooking.
  6. 6. Just before the barley risotto is ready, quickly fry the black pudding in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan for a minute or so, until each slice is coloured on both sides. Put into a low oven or cover to keep warm and use the rest of the olive oil to fry the eggs to your liking. Top each portion of barley risotto with a slice of black pudding and a fried egg and serve immediately.

Nutritional info

Per serving: 804kcals, 42.9g fat (12.9g saturated), 35.8g protein,77.5g carbs, 2.6g sugar, 3.8g salt

Chef's tip

Barley has become rather trendy; we’ve adopted the northern Italian method of cooking it like a risotto.

Wine Recommendation

This has so many elements of the big breakfast that a cup of good, strong tea is tempting! Otherwise, grab an earthy, rustic red with plenty of ripe fruit. A southern French Syrah or Italian Nero d’Avola would be great.


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