Excerpted from Charlie Palmer's new cookbook, American Fare
Serves Six

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces finely diced pancetta
  • 2 leeks, white part only, cut, crosswise, into thin slices
  • ½ pound wild mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned, and sliced
  • 2 cups pearl barley
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock or nonfat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes or just until the meat begins to brown. Add the leeks and mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes or until the leeks and mushrooms begin to color. Stir in the barley along with the thyme and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the wine and cook for about 5 minutes or just until the wine has been absorbed by the barley. It will darken in color. Stir in half of the remaining stock, raise the heat, and bring to a boil. Immediately lower the heat, cover, and cook at a bare simmer for about 12 minutes or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Uncover and stir in the remaining stock. Again, cover and continue to cook for another 12 minutes or until barley is tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed.


Stir in the ½ cup of cheese along with the parsley.


Spoon equal portions of the “risotto” into six shallow pasta bowls, sprinkle with more cheese and serve.