Barley Stew with Beans, Mushrooms & Sausage

Stews are the ultimate cold weather comfort food. This is a favorite of ours to feed the winery staff during the cold wet days of winter here in the Dry Creek Valley. Pair yours with a Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir to bring out the best of both!

4 oz. dried white beans – soaked overnight in water to cover
kosher salt
8 oz. pearl barley, soaked overnight in water to cover
1 qt. low-sodium chicken broth, or as needed
2 T. unsalted butter
4 T. olive oil
⅓ lb. assorted mushrooms, sliced
½ lb. fresh sweet pork sausage
2 oz. bacon or pancetta, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 or 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 rib celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
3 sage leaves, chopped
1 oz. dried porcini, soaked in hot water for 30 mins.
¼ lb. diced prosciutto (optional)
freshly ground black pepper
chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Montasio or Parmesan cheese, for grating (optional)

Drain the soaked beans, place in a small saucepan and cover with fresh cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer the beans gently until tender, about 30 mins. Add ½ t. salt during the last 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Transfer barley and its soaking water to another saucepan, add 2 c. of the chicken broth and 1 t. salt and simmer until barley is tender but still has some chewiness. (Add more water if the barley absorbs all of the liquid and is still too firm). This will take about 45 mins, or a bit longer. Set aside.

Melt the butter along with 1 T. of the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 3 mins. Set aside.

Steam the sausage in another pan with a little water until cooked through. When cool enough to handle, cut into ½ inch thick rounds. (Cut them into smaller pieces if you are planning to serve this as a soup). Remove to a plate and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in a stew pot or large sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the bacon along with the onion and carrots and celery for about 10 mins. or until onion is tender. Add garlic, herbs, beans barley and any simmering liquid and remaining chicken broth and simmer for 10 mins.

Strain the porcini through a coffee filter, reserving the liquid. Chop the porcini. Add the mushrooms, porcini and their strained soaking liquids, the sausage and prosciutto, if using and simmer for 10 minutes longer to blend the flavors. Add more liquid if needed. Season with pepper and salt to taste.

Serve the stew in warmed bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and grated Montasion or Parmesan cheese if you like.

Enjoy with your favorite Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir!