Warm Winter Chicken and Barley ‘Risotto’ Salad

I love a good risotto, particularly on a cold Winter day… It’s just a shame that the quantity of Parmesan that I like to add to get that delicious oozy consistency is enough to clog my arteries and those of my loved ones. It’s also a shame that I rarely have 40 mins of uninterrupted time to stand by the hob and lovingly drip feed those grains of arborio with stock to get to that perfect state of risotto-ness… Yes, I just made that word up.

Hey ho. In my quest to create something equally yum, yet similar in style to a risotto, I referred to my new favourite ‘What Katie Ate’ cookbook for some inspiration. And this is where I ended up.

Warm Winter Chicken and Barley ‘Risotto’ Salad
Serves 3 as a main course

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Start by finely chopping the following…

1/2 red onion
2 carrots, peeled
2 sticks of celery
1 courgette (one day I will start calling it zucchini)
1 large sprig of Rosemary
2 crushed garlic cloves

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Soften these ingredients in a little olive oil on a medium to low heat in a large pan until they look like they are about to start browning… Approx 10-15 mins…

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Next, add 1 and a 1/2 cups of pearl barley to the dish and coat with the oil from the veg, as you would with risotto rice, for a couple of minutes.

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Then add 3 cups of chicken or veg stock, stir and let simmer gently for about 20 mins. Stir occasionally and keep and eye on the liquid level until the barley reaches the desired bite, but…. You can pretty much leave it to do its thing for this time.

Next, in a frying pan, on a medium high heat and in a tiny bit of oil, gently place…

2 large chicken thighs, seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika, skin side down
4 rashers of streaky bacon (it was in the fridge and I hate to waste)

Remove the bacon rashers once they are starting to get crispy and keep rotating the chicken so that the skin is browned on all sides. Add a good glug (like, half a glass) of white wine to the pan, reduce the heat to medium until cooked through completely. The wine will have reduced down to make the give the chicken a delicious flavour. Remove the pan from the heat, remove the meat from the bone and cut into chunks. Chop up the bacon too.

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Now, check the barley is cooked, turn off the heat and check for seasoning. Pop in a big handful of small broccoli florets. The residual heat will just soften these enough to truly enjoy!

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Now, for the toppings…

In a small frying pan, brown 1/4 a cup of almond slithers for a few mins, just to enhance their flavour a bit

Cut a couple of spring onions, diagonally into 1/2cm pieces to look nice

Cube up one avocado

Combine 1tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

Pop it all on top of the barley vegetable ‘risotto’ not forgetting the chicken and bacon and serve…

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Any leftovers are pretty good cold too with a good squeeze of lemon over the top. Enjoy!

Let me know what you think in the comments section below! X

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