Friday, November 13, 2009

Chicken Barley Bake

It was another quick and easy dinner night, and another brand new recipe. I've mentioned before that I went on a whole grain kick awhile back, which left me with Mason jars full of "exotic" grains (at least they're exotic to me): pearled barley, whole wheat couscous, bulgur wheat, steel cut oats, etc. I'm slowly but surely working my way through my supply, and it's been exciting to find new recipes and try new things. Tonight's recipe features pearled barley, which is very tender and mild. I think it's kind of like puffy, chewy oatmeal, but in a good way.

For this recipe, I combined my pearled barley with onions, carrots, garlic, chicken broth, and poultry seasoning. I sweated the onions, garlic, and carrots, then added my barley to the skillet, just to toast it a tiny bit. I added the chicken broth and poultry seasoning, then brought the whole thing to a boil. The barley mixture is dumped into a 9x9-inch pan, some skinless chicken thighs are plopped on top, and then the whole mess goes into the oven for about an hour. Then, you get this:
It looks kind of boring, and it doesn't have over-the-top flavor, but it was good. It could use some doctoring up, which is what I plan to try in the future. I'd like to add some broccoli and spinach to the barley mixture. It also needed some salt, and next time I'll certainly add some Greek seasoning. That should help.
Why have I not been using chicken thighs for the past three years? I've always thought that I didn't like dark meat, but I've discovered that it's really my favorite! There'll definitely be more chicken thigh purchases in my future...and they're cheaper than chicken breasts. More flavor for less's a winner!
If you're interested in introducing whole grains into your diet, this would be a great place to start. I actually found pearled barley in my regular grocery store (Kroger), instead of having to go to Whole Foods! Kroger keeps the pearled barley with the dried beans, just in case you need a little help finding it.
Chicken Barley Bake
Adapted from a recipe from Heather's Site
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup pearled barley
1/4 tsp. chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 chicken thighs, skinned (1.5 lbs)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, sweat onions, carrots, and garlic, just until the onions are translucent. Add barley and toast for about a minute (don't let it burn!). Add broth, barley, bouillon, and poultry seasoning. Bring mixture to a boil, then pour into a 9x9-inch baking dish. Arrange chicken thighs on top of mixture. Season chicken thighs with salt/pepper and any other seasonings you'd like. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Uncover chicken and continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes.

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