Toasted Barley Risotto with Blue Hubbard Squash, Hen of the Woods Mushrooms


4½ cups homemade mushroom or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons butter
1 cup finely chopped Spanish onion
1 cup pearl barley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup lightly roasted ¼ inch dice Blue Hubbard squash
1 cup Hen of the Woods mushrooms, broken into small pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chervil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon crème fraiche

Toast the barley in a 350°F oven for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown. Bring stock to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Melt 2 teaspoons butter in large nonstick skillet or medium sized saucepan over low heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add barley, thyme, bay leaf and 2 cups warm stock; bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until most of stock is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add remaining stock ½ cup at a time, allowing stock to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until barley is tender, about 40-50 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

Add the squash and mushrooms to the barley mixture and slowly stir in the grated cheese until it is incorporated and smooth. Add crème fraiche and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the chopped herbs and serve immediately.