Mike and I often like to go to our neighborhood "Cheers", Matteuci's, on Friday nights for a couple of drinks. It's very close to home and homey. The problem is that they do not serve food except for special events like the Super Bowl. Usually we'll go early for a drink then order food after and watch a movie. This Friday I decided to make dinner first so we could come home and eat something healithier than the normal take out choices. In the March Food & Wine I had found a chicken and barley stew that made my mouth water. Since it's a stew it was a good choice to set on the stove for an hour while we were gone. There is something about barley cooked in chicken stock that is so delicious to me. Here's the link http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/chicken-and-barley-stew-with-dill-and-lemon. Like chicken soup for the soul.
Chicken and Barley Stew with Dill and Lemon my way
~2-3 tablespoons all-purpose unbleached flour
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 skinless, boneless chicken (half) breasts, cut into bite size pieces
~2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 pieces of celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled, cored and pressed
1 cup pearled barley
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
small handful of dill, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
couple of sprigs of tarragon, chopped
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to taste
In a shallow bowl, combine the flour with ~1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir the chicken in the flour with a fork and shake off excess.
In a medium size pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the chicken pieces and cook over moderately high heat until golden, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the more oil if necessary and the carrots to the pan and cook over moderate heat for ~3 minutes. Add the celery, leek and garlic and cook until starting to soften, ~2 minutes. Add a large pinch each of salt and pepper and the barley. Toast the barley, stirring, for ~1-2 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the barley is almost tender, about 20-30 minutes.
Return the chicken to the stew; cover and simmer until cooked through and the stew has thickened, about 10 minutes. You can set it aside at this point if like me you want to go out for a drink with your sweetie. Return the stew to the heat and stir in the dill and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve the stew in bowls, sprinkle with the tarragon and cheese to taste.
This was a lovely dish to come home to and so much better tasting and better for us than any take out or delivery. The only thing I might try next is to add red chili flakes or hot sauce for a nice kick. The barley becomes so creamy cooked in the chicken stock and the veggies add some color and texture. Two thumbs up from Mike and me. Enjoy!