This is great for an early winter (if you're up north) or mid-fall (if you are down here) dinner. Especially if you have already made a chicken recently and have a lot of leftover meat to use up. Otherwise, just leave it out and it can be simply barley and mushrooms, which is also delicious. To make vegetarian, just use veggie broth instead.
Start out with a package of innocent, fresh cremini mushrooms, washed and well dried.Slice them thinly, and dice up one small onion as well.Sauté the mushrooms and onion together in a large pot in a couple tablespoons of some kind of fat. I used chicken fat because it is delicious and I had a bunch on hand, but butter is just fine to use as well--you could even combine it with olive oil for real virtue.When the onions and mushrooms are soft and browned (about 8-10 minutes over medium-high heat), turn up the heat and add about 1/2 cup white wine so that it sizzles madly. Let evaporate for about 2 minutesMeanwhile, measure out some barley. I used about 1 1/2 cups.Add the barley in with your mushrooms and onion and sauté for a minute or so until lightly toasty and well coated with wine/butter/chicken fat/what-have-you.Add 4 cups of chicken stock, stir well, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Let the barley absorb all the liquid, stirring occasionally. It will take about 35 minutes. If you're using chicken, add in about 1/2 cup, cooked, chopped meat 10 minutes before the barley is all done cooking. Before serving, remove from heat, stir in 1 tablespoon each white wine vinegar and minced parsley.