Warm Treacle and Cider-cured Smoked Ham Hock Spring Barley Salad
Portion/Yield:Serves 6 as a starter or serves 4 as main course
It’s mid-May and the height of spring, but with the occasional chill in the air, one might sometimes question the season we are in. This dish meets the seasons halfway. The barley salad is served warm and is full of the goodness and brightness of the seasonal bounty that this month provides. This recipe is a farmers’ market one, as most of these ingredients should be easily available at a typical farmers’ market during May. The treacle and cider-cured smoked ham hock is again from my local smokehouse, but if you cannot find it or anything similar, use smoked ham instead.
Ingredients & Method
- 50ml light olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 sticks celery, diced
- 150g pearl barley
- 100ml real ale (I use Adnams, but choose your own local favourite)
- 400ml white chicken stock
- 2 smoked spicy chorizo or Spanish sausages (120–150g total weight)
- a bunch of asparagus (200–250g), trimmed
- 120g treacle and cider-cured smoked ham hock, flaked
- 120g fresh (or frozen) broad beans (shelled weight)
- 120g fresh (or frozen) peas (shelled weight)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- fresh pea tops or pea shoots, to garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion, garlic and celery over a medium heat for about 6 minutes or until the vegetables are transparent and are starting to take on colour – cover the pan with the lid for the first 2 minutes, then remove the lid for the remaining time. Add the pearl barley and cook for 2 minutes.
Pour the ale into the pan and let it bubble, stirring and scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze it. Cook over a high heat for 4–5 minutes or until the pearl barley has absorbed the ale, stirring regularly. Add the stock, bring back to a simmer (do not add any salt at this stage as it will make the barley tough – add seasoning towards the end of the cooking time), then cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes or until the barley is tender, stirring occasionally. After about 20 minutes cooking time you can then add a little salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cut the chorizo sausages into 1cm slices and pan-fry in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat for 5–6 minutes or until cooked and golden brown. Remove from the heat, set aside and keep hot.
Prepare the asparagus spears. Cut off the tips in 3-4cm lengths and reserve, then cut the stems into 2-3mm-thick slices and reserve.
Once the barley is cooked, remove the lid and increase the heat to a rapid boil. Add the ham, broad beans, peas and asparagus tips and stems and cook for about 5 minutes or until the remaining liquid is absorbed. Turn the heat off and stir in the butter, taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed, and then add the lemon zest and juice and chopped parsley. Stir in the cooked chorizo slices.
Serve the warm salad in bowls and garnish with pea tops. Serve with warm freshly baked bread rolls.