In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and water to a slow simmer over medium heat.
Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan set over medium heat; add the onions and garlic, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and cook until soft and sightly colored, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until they turn golden brown, about 5 minutes; add more oil to the pan if necessary.
Next, stir in the barley and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the grains are well coated and slightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Then, pour in the white wine or dry vermouth, if using, and continue stirring until the barley has absorbed all the liquid, about 30 to 60 seconds.
Start adding the warm chicken broth, about 1 cup or so at a time, and continue to stir constantly, making sure that the broth is completely absorbed between each addition. Continue stirring in more warm broth, about 1 cup at a time, until the risotto is tender and creamy, which should take about 45 minutes from the time you first started adding warm broth. Taste regularly to gauge the doneness of the barley; you may not need to use all the stock, or you may need a little more, depending on how soft you like your risotto. Just be sure that any liquid you add to your risotto is nice and hot: this will ensure that the temperature of the barley remains consistently hot, which, along with the constant stirring, will encourage the release of the starch in the barley. In turn, that starch will thicken the surrounding liquid and make it nice and creamy for you.
Once the barley is cooked to your liking, vigorously stir in the parmesan cheese, then delicately add the leftover chicken.
Kill the heat, hit your risotto with a handful of chopped fresh parsley if desired and serve without delay, topped with a little bit more grated Parmesan cheese.
Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side.
Creamy Chicken Mushroom Barley Risotto
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1016Calories from Fat 405
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 45g69%
Saturated Fat 11g55%
Total Carbohydrates 93g31%
Dietary Fiber 17g68%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.