•2 tablespoons olive oil
•1/2 tablespoon butter
•2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
•1/2 star anise
•2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
•100g pearl barley
•About 850ml top quality hot lamb stock
•150g asparagus spears, cut into 1.5cm lengths
•30g crumbly goat’s cheese
•1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
•1 thick slice black pudding, roughly chopped
•a handful of pea shoots, to serve
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and the butter in a casserole and add the shallots and star anise. Stir well and sauté very slowly for 10-12 minutes until the shallots are very soft and sweet. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove the star anise and discard.
2. Add the pearl barley and stir well to coat in the buttery oil. Cook over a medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add 2 large ladlefuls of the hot stock – about 500ml – to the pan and stir well. Leave to gently simmer until the stock is almost all absorbed – it’s not necessary to stir constantly as you would with traditional risotto. Add the rest of the stock ladleful by ladleful, waiting for each one to be fully absorbed before you add the next.
4. While the pearl barley is simmering, blanch the asparagus in lightly salted boiling water for about 2 minutes, then drain and plunge in iced water. Set aside.
5. The barley is cooked when the grain is plump and tender but still al dente. Ensure there is still enough stock in the pan for the barley to be wet and semi-soupy. Taste for seasoning. Remove from the heat and add the asparagus, goat’s cheese and lemon zest. Stir well, cover and set aside.
6. Quickly fry the black pudding in the remaining oil until starting to crisp.
7. Ladle the risotto into bowls and sprinkle over the black pudding. Garnish with a scattering of pea shoots and serve.