Oh, it is a cold and rainy day . . . blustery . . . the kind of day that would have Pooh scrambling around with his umbrella, complaining to Piglet . . . I can almost hear his voice.
Whatever happened to spring . . . here we are in June and it still feels like April. Nevermind . . . the warm sunny days will be with us soon enough and then we will be complaining it is too hot!!
Best to take advantage of the last of the cool days and cook something comforting and wholesome . . . satisfying. Something that can simmer on the back of the stove for several hours while I escape into a book . . .
This tasty Chicken simmer fits the bill perfectly. It needs very little attention and is so very delicious when it is done. People will think that you have been slaving all day over it . . . when in reality you just basically banged everything into a pan and then let the pan do the hard work . . .
Okay, so it was a little more work than that, but not much . . . and boy oh boy, is it ever good. This had my Todd smacking his lips. This is the kind of dish that you don't mind having leftovers of . . .
You just know they are going to taste even better the day after . . . next time I will double it. Adapted from the cookery book, easy everyday, simple recipes for no-fuss food.
*Chicken and Barley Simmer*
This is the kind of meal that basically cooks itself. Long simmering produces deliciously tender chicken, well flavoured and satisfying.
2 TBS wholemeal flour
500g skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cubed (4 large single breasts)
100g lean streaky bacon, cut into strips (six rashers)
(I like to use the dry cure)
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
750-900 ml of white wine or chicken stock (3 to 4 cups)
3 TBS pearl barley, rinsed
1 TBS freshly chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, sage, thyme, basil, plus extra to serve
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Season the chicken chunks with some salt and black pepper. Dredge in the flour. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and dry fry for several minutes, about 5, stirring frequently, until the fat starts to run. Add the chicken and saute for 5 to 8 minutes, turning rrequently, until the chicken is seared all over. Add the onions, carrots, celery and 4 TBS of wine or stock. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the barley, herbs and 2 cups of the stock or wine, or a mixture of both. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about one hour, adding more stock as needed.
Check after an hour and add more stock if need be, then cover and continue to simmer for an additonal half an hour. Stir occasionally and add stock as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Sprinkle with some more chopped herbs to serve, accompanied with a selection of your favourite vegetables.
We had this with some steamed new potatoes along with some carrots and cauliflower which I had also steamed and roasted asparagus. It is delicious!