4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
5 - 6 ounces smoked bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
1 cup barley
one 12-ounce bottle Octoberfest beer
3 cups peeled 3/4-inch diced butternut squash
grated parmesan cheese for garnish
Get started by heating 4 cups chicken broth plus 2 cups water in a deep pot on the stovetop and, while that's heating up, crisp up 5 - 6 ounces of diced bacon in a wide, deep heavy bottomed pot.
Drain the crispy bacon on paper towels when it's done and then add 1 medium diced onion and about 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage to the pan and cook it along in the rendered bacon fat.
Once the onion has softened up, add 1 cup pearl barley and stir that around and toast it for a minute or so.
At this point you'd typically add 1 cup of white wine to the Arborio rice but, to keep the fall theme going, add 1 cup of Octoberfest beer instead.
Once the beer has been absorbed by the barley, add a ladle or two of the chicken broth and stir that in.
Stir it pretty regularly and continue to add broth as the barley absorbs it....it'll take around 30 minutes for the barley to cook.
When the barley is close to being done, add about 3 cups peeled 1/2 - 3/4 inch cubed butternut squash to a large pan and add the rest of the bottle of beer to that and add a ladle of chicken broth, put a lid on top and steam the squash on high heat until it's tender crisp.
Then, once the barley is soft to the tooth, add the butternut squash and liquid to the barley and then fold the crispy bacon in and it's good to go.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese.
For a colorful green touch, add some chopped spinach or kale to the pan with the butternut squash and steam that at the same time as the squash.