After recovering from a stomach bug, my suddenly renewed appetite had me craving a stew, but I wanted to stay away from anything too rich and hearty. So I made this, which manages to have the appeal of both chicken soup and a stew at the same time. It was light, but satisfying, and with each mouthful of veg I knew I was feeding my body back some of the nutrients it had lost over the previous days. Oh, and it was pretty tasty, too!
4 chicken pieces, skin and bone on (I used a mixture of thighs and drumsticks)
25g barley (pearl or pot – I used pot)
2 celery sticks
1 small onion
Garlic cloves, to taste (I used about 6)
1 sprig of rosemary
A few sprigs of thyme
2 leaves of sage
1 bay leaf (I didn’t have any in stock, but would usually use one)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Put the barley in a saucepan covered with four parts water. Bring to the boil, and continue to boil for ten minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the veg. Slice the celery. Peel and roughly cut the carrots and parsnips into chunks (but don’t cut them too big, otherwise they will take longer to cook than the chicken.) Cut the onion into about six or so segments, slice the leek into half moons (discard the tough green part) and peel and bash the garlic cloves.
Strip the thyme leaves from the stems, then do the same with the rosemary. Discard any of the rosemary that feels tough or a bit woody, then finely chop the remainder, along with the sage leaves.
Boil water for your stock. Arrange the veg in layers, making sure with each to season, sprinkle with some of the paprika, and throw over the herbs. The barley, however, can all be added to the first layer. When you get to the last layer, tuck in the garlic cloves and bay leaf. Spoon over bouillon powder, or if using a stock cube, break it up into small pieces and evenly distribute over the veg. Pour over enough boiled water to just cover all of the vegetables.
Season the chicken pieces well with salt, pepper, and any paprika you have left over. Sit the pieces, skin side up, on the vegetables. Cook in the middle of the oven for about 40-50 minutes, buy which time you should have moist, crispy skinned chicken and vegetables that are just soft enough but still retain some bite.