“Well, it’s pie-like. I mean, it has a bottom crust and a top crust and it is filled with stuff. So yeah, pie.”
“No, we have had barley sitting in the pantry for like a year so we’re going to eat that first.”
“And it has mushrooms and ricotta in it!”
“Ew, no. It’s a vegetarian Thanksgiving entree.”
“Can we have bacon on the side?”
Anyway, perhaps if you don’t live in my apartment, you would be really excited to make this. I mean, I know I was. And lest you think Alex doesn’t like mushrooms and barley and vegetarian dishes, it is entirely not the case. But I have to admit, this is a wonderful dish (he’s eaten the leftovers, twice!) but it needs… something.
Something like olives or sundried tomatoes or or… there is something quite flat-tasting about it and all the salt and pepper in the world wasn’t enough to give it the dimension it needed.
Gah. The things I must endure.
One year ago: Pie Crust 101 [Pie Crust 102, coming soon!]
Mushroom and Barley Pie
Gourmet, November 2008
As I mentioned above, we really enjoyed this but agreed it needed some “punching up” in the flavor department. Perhaps a 1/2 cup of chopped olives or 1/4 cup capers or sundried tomatoes? We never came to a specific conclusion, but I welcome your suggestions, and if you make it, what worked for you.
By the way, wouldn’t this make the most darling giant leaf pie?
3/4 cup pearl barley or farro
3 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
9 scallions, finely chopped (1 1/3 cups), divided
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup dry Madeira (preferably Verdelho or Sercial)
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
1 (1-pound) package frozen all-butter puff pastry, thawed (if you can get DuFour, it will be worth every extra penny–promise)
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt
If using farro, cover it with cold water in a bowl and soak 30 minutes, then drain in a colander, discarding soaking water. Bring farro, water (3 cups), and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain.
If using barley, no need to soak it. Simmer unsoaked barley in 6 cups water with 1/4 teaspoon salt for 45 minutes. Drain.
While barley or farro cooks, melt butter with oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, then cook garlic and half of scallions, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add Madeira and simmer 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and stir in barley or farro, then cool completely.
Stir in ricotta, remaining scallions, and salt and pepper to taste.
Roll out pastry while filling cools:
If pastry is in 1 piece, cut into 2 equal pieces. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface into an 11-inch square. Stack squares on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet with a second sheet of parchment between them, then cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes.
Assemble and bake pie:
Put a large baking sheet on rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 400°F.
Set aside top square of pastry on parchment. Spread cooled filling evenly over pastry on baking sheet, leaving a 1-inch border. Brush border with some of egg wash, and, using parchment, invert second square on top, lightly pressing to seal border. Brush top with remaining egg wash, then crimp border with a fork and trim with a pizza wheel or sharp knife.
Cut a few small steam vents in top of pie and decoratively score pastry. Slide pie on parchment onto preheated baking sheet in oven and bake until puffed and deep golden brown, about 45 minutes.
Do ahead: The filling can be made and pastry rolled out 1 day ahead and chilled. Or, you can assemble the pie up to three hours ahead of time and chill it uncovered until you’re ready to bake it.