Barley paella with squid & pheasant

Barley paella with squid & pheasant

Andrew Montgomery

This charming take on classic paella uses pheasant instead of chicken and locally grown pearl barley instead of a more typical white rice. It all happens in one pan, so it’s a great one to cook outside over a fire and eat with family and friends. I pack everything I need into a rucksack, including a decent stock decanted into a large plastic bottle, and head to the beach. Try to find a really good, smoky chorizo, deep red with wine and paprika – it goes so well with both the pheasant and the squid. (I’ve made the same dish with rabbit and that’s stunning too.) You can carefully cut the meat off the bone if you like, but I like to leave the thighs and the drumsticks whole. It gives everyone something to pick up and hold in their hands.


Quantity Ingredient
1 pheasant, jointed
100ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
200g good-quality chorizo, sliced into thick rounds
1 red pepper, halved deseeded and cut into strips
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
400g pearl barley
2 glasses white wine
2 litres Oysters in chicken stock with chives
2 pinches saffron strands
500g whole squid, cleaned, body cut into 1cm rings, tentacles cut into 2 or 3 bits
1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 lemon, Juiced, plus extra wedges for serving
freshly ground black pepper


  1. First, cut the jointed pheasant breasts into 4 pieces, and separate the thighs and drumsticks. Then, place a large paella pan, or your biggest casserole over a medium heat or the embers of a glowing fire. Add half the olive oil followed by the pheasant pieces and the chorizo. Season with salt and pepper and fry for 4–5 minutes, until all the meat has taken on a little colour. Scatter in the red pepper, onion and garlic and cook for a further 5–6 minutes. Now add the pearl barley and fry for 1–2 minutes, stirring once or twice to coat the grains. Add the wine and bring the liquid up to a simmer. Add the stock and the saffron and cook, stirring regularly to prevent sticking, for 25–35 minutes, until most of the stock has been absorbed by the grain.
  2. At this point add the well-cleaned squid and the parsley. Stir well, and cook for a further 4–5 minutes, until the pearl barley is tender but still has a little texture. If you feel it is too al dente, add a splash of water to the pan and cook for 4–5 minutes more. When you’re happy, turn off the heat or remove the paella from the fire. Drizzle over the lemon juice, taste and adjust the seasoning with plenty of salt and pepper. Allow the paella to rest, covered, for 5–10 minutes.
  3. Serve with lemon wedges, a little more olive oil, good bread and good wine.
River Cottage
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