Chicken and Bacon Pearl Barley Bake

So, it’s been a while. I didn’t post anything in December because the last few weeks of term went so quickly and were so packed that nothing in particular cacme to mind worth sharing, especially after I gave you so many ideas to try out in my last foodie musings in 10 Ways with Shortbread. You’d think that after all that shortbread, as well as the multitude of batches that were floating about at home over Christmas, I wouldn’t want to bake any more but that wasn’t true at all. The last batch of biscuits I made we these Ginger Iced Shortbread. I couldn’t help myself. I missed them. Did anyone elses mother send them back to Huddersfield with so many baked goodies that you wondered how long it would take you to get through them all? No? I had a cake tin full of stuff but sadly no ginger shortbread because my brother who was visitng for two days ate the last pieces. So I had to make my own and now I have lots.

Anyway, back on track. It’s January and you need something comforting. You also probably need something cheapish after the whole Christmas blowout thing. Though Student Finance comes through this week so maybe not. Either way, this dish satisfies both these points along with several others. It’s easy. It’s delicious. It can be adapted to use leftovers. It tastes so damn good. It can be used as a get together dish for your house/flatmates. And did I mention it’s gorgeous? Just one more thing which I will whisper for fear of putting some people off – it’s actually pretty healthy.

This went down pretty well on my blog I’d Much Rather Bake Than... which pleased me no end and is also why I have no shame in ripping it straight from there. I will have to direct you to another blog though for the sauce because until I have played around with it more I fell a tad guilty about stealing the credit for it. I promise you the cauliflower taste isn’t strong, especially with all the other goodness going on in there. If you really can’t face it though and can’t be bothered making up another sauce, I imagine a tin of creamy soup would work as an alternative. Don’t blame me though if it take the flavour down a notch or two.

Chunks of roasted chicken coupled with flavoursome smoked bacon. Nuggets of veg dispersed throughout with a hint of caramelisation. Texture from the barley and an silky hug from the sauce encasing the whole lot. Use any crunchy topping you wish or leave it off if you prefer but whatever direction you take, give this one a go.

Ingredients (serves at least 4, more with a side dish)

  • Spray oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 15 sprouts, dirty leaves removed then quartered
  • ground black pepper
  • ground nutmeg
  • parsley
  • 2-3 rashers smoked bacon, well trimmed
  • leftover roast chicken
  • 1 pint chicken/veg stock
  • 150g pearl barley
  • 3 Ryvita crackers
  • Grated cheese for sprinkling
  • 1 batch this sauce
Instructions
  1. 1. A hour or so before starting soak the barley in half the stock. (This is only necessary if you aren’t keen on al dente pearly barley. Leave this step out if you like it so.)
  2. Heat a frying pan while the oven heats to 200 C/180 C fan. Spray with a little oil then add the onions. Start to soften then add the bacon followed by the carrots and sprouts. Add pepper and parsley to taste then stir together and leave, covered until the onion has softened a little longer.
  3. Add the barley and its soaking stock to the pan and mix together. Add as much of the sauce as you wish, mix then transfer to a large ovenproof dish. Get inventive with the leftover sauce – pasta, straight from the bowl, etc.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 mins to 1 hour depending on how soft you like the veg and barley. For the last 10 mins, remove the foil and sprinkle on the Ryvita. Sprinkle on the cheese when just before serving.

 

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