We are starting to feel winter approaching here in the center of Israel. The temparature is around 19C (66F) during the day and around 12C (54F) in the evening. I know that most of you are having a real chuckle over my definition of winter, but the only true winter that you see in Israel is in the Golan Heights and Galilee, Jerusalem and the Negev.
Given the temperature change, I was in the mood for a nice hearty dish for Shabbat dinner. I have been trying to convince my husband for a while now that he will like the way I cook barley. His experience with barley has apparently not been a good one. I on the other hand love barley and have nice memories of my father making a big pot of barley & mushroom soup. I really miss this soup and I have not made in years. So, I did a little bit of Southern sweet talking and convinced him to try an interesting barley recipe I found.
The recipe called for barley groats which is the least processed form of barley, with just the outermost hull removed. While it is chewier and slower to cook than more processed forms of barley, it is rich in fiber. They sell it in the supermarkets here in Israel, but you should be able to find it at Whole Foods or a health food store.
This simple one-pot chicken dish is perfect for a cold winter day. It is full of flavour using good chicken stock, fresh thyme and white wine. It is even better the next day. You can make this with pearl barley, but reduce the cooking time from 1 hour to 35-40 minutes.
And the best part is that Mr. Baroness Tapuzina said he loved it and I could make it again for him. Twenty-five points for using my Scarlett O’Hara impression. It works every time. Now I can make the mushroom and barley soup.
1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped
3 3/4 cups chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, crushed in a garlic press
1 1/2 cups barley groats or pearl barley
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1/2-tsp dried)
Season chicken with 1/8-tsp salt and pepper. In a shallow Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat and brown the chicken in batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium and saute the onion until golden. Add the leeks and the garlic, sauteing until the leeks are softened. Add the barley and bay leaf, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Then stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates. Add the chicken stock, mushrooms, thyme and remaining salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes and then add the chicken, nestling it into the barley. Cover and cook until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour for barley groats (35-40 minutes for pearl barley).