This nutty pilaf is a variation on a recipe from columnist Susan Spungen's grandmother Essie, and is perfect for soaking up the rich juices from Juki's Short Ribs.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add onions, and blanch until skins loosen, about one minute. Drain onions in a colander, and rinse with cold water. Peel onions, and set aside.
Heat the fat in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until hot but not smoking. Add barley; cook, stirring frequently, until the barley is browned and fragrant, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Add stock and reserved onions. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook barley until tender but chewy and all liquid has been absorbed, about 40 minutes; if all the liquid is absorbed and the barley is still not done, add a few tablespoons stock or water, and continue cooking. Serve hot.
You can substitute frozen pearl onions for fresh, if you like, and skip step one.