I'm making a barley risotto and happen to have a slow cooker on loan. I've never used one so I'm a little skeptical, but the idea of set it and forget it is appealing. Is there any reason I shouldn't use it or anything I should change?
I haven't made risotto in a slow cooker before, but it sounds like a tasty adventure.
I imagine, if I wanted to try this, I would do the fry pan steps - fry onions, fry barley to get the oils into the grain - then add to the slowcooker with the hot broth. I bet there are lots of people out there who have actually done it and can give better advice.
Question: what kind of barley are you using? Pearl, whole grain...? Are you soaking the grain before hand?
My only real concern with the barley (and other whole grains) is that it takes some tricks to be easy to digest. If you are one of the lucky ones who can digest high fibre and whole grains easily, then go for it. But, for me, if I was making this, I would have trouble digesting the barley if it hadn't come to a full enough boil during cooking time. I find my slowcooker just can't do this and even though the grain is cooked, it is still difficult to digest. I can get around this by soaking the barley for 12 to 24 hours before cooking, and/or giving the barely a five minute boil before adding to slowcooker - but that wouldn't work for risotto.
So, for ease of digestion, I would maybe fry the onions and whatever else your recipe calls for, add the grain, let it absorb the oil, add about 1/8 to 1/4 of the broth and bring to boil, stir like normal risotto until liquid is almost evaporated, then toss it and the rest of the ingredients in the slowcooker.