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Type Of Barley For Saffron Orzotto

Asked by Rosa02. Answered on 12th June 2021

Full question

When I cook the Saffron Orzotto unless I simmer for three hours it does not soften, why? I use pearl barley and follow the recipe.

Image of Nigella's Saffron Orzotto
Photo by Petrina Tinslay
Saffron Orzotto
By Nigella
  • 14
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Our answer

Nigella's Saffron Orzotto (from NIGELLISSIMA) is a saffron-infused side dish that is made with pearl barley. Orzo is the Italian word for barley. After cooking, the barley should have a slightly chewy texture, not hard but also not super-soft. Pearled barley is barley that has been hulled (had the outer husk removed) and polished to remove all of the outer layers. It is creamy white in colour and, as the outer layers have been removed, it usually cooks in 25-30 minutes.

We just wonder if hulled barley is being used. This has the outer husk removed but still has the bran and endosperm layers and is more of a golden colour. It will take quite a bit longer to cook than pearl barley as the outer layers need to break down before the grain softens. If this is not the issue, then make sure that the pan is simmering gently (with a few bubbles) as if the liquid is not simmering, but more of a "poaching" temperature, then it will take longer for the barley to cook. Check the pan after 15 minutes and adjust the heat under the pan, if necessary.

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