Barley with Roasted Chicken and Smoky Tomatoes

dsc_0193RECIPE #423, DAY #577


ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Spicy Chicken Barley Risotto with Dried Currants and Smoked Gouda,” from Nadia G’s Cookin’ for Trouble*

TIMING: 2 hours

DIFFICULTY: Easy for someone with some experience

TOOLS: Small roasting pan, medium and large sauce pans, meat thermometer

COOK TYPE: Stovetop and oven

HEALTH: This is a great hearty, healthy dinner. Made with whole, non-wheat grains, lean protein, veggies, and spices, this is a meal in 1 bowl. There is some olive oil, chicken fat, and a small amount of cheese, but this only rounds out the nutrition.

dsc_0194EXPERIENCE: This is the first recipe I have tried from this book, which was inherited (as opposed to carefully purchased). I kept the book because the food looks and sounds amazing. Unfortunately, this recipe was not what I expected. For all the time and effort put in, I was expecting something amazing, when what I got was, “Ehn. Pretty good.” Also, not a risotto. Just cooked barley. And I was not a fan of all the smokiness, but my husband kept saying he liked that bit. In my version, I took out some of the smoky by using regular paprika the second time. You could just use smoked paprika the whole way.

Also, for some reason, this recipe kept making my fire alarms go off.

In Nadia G’s defense, this is supposed to be made with leftover rotisserie chicken, so that would cut down a bit on the prep. Honestly, though, roasting chicken is not a big deal and you already have the barley cooking.

NOTES: You may omit the chicken skin, but I always love to use it if I can.


  1. Preheat your oven to 425F.
  2. Fill a medium saucepan half-full with salted water. Bring to a boil. Add 1 cup pearl barley and boil gently for 1 1/2 hours, until cooked through. Monitor for water level.
  3. Meanwhile, rub 2 bone-in chicken breasts with safflower oil, making sure to get under the skin. Squirt with half  lemon and then sprinkle with plenty of garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Massage it into the chicken and  under the skin. Sprinkle on some rosemary.
  4. Place chicken in a small roasting or baking pan, skin side up, and bake for 1/2 hour before checking the internal temp. You want to get to 165F.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 thin sliced garlic cloves and 1 thin sliced jalapeno and cook until fragrant. Add 3 thin sliced shallots and cook until translucent. Add 1/2 tablespoon paprika and give it a stir, then add 1/4 cup red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan until wine has reduced.
  6. Add 30 ounces crushed tomatoes, 1 cup chicken stock, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon oregano, and ground black pepper. Stir, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low. Cook until sauce is fairly thick, about 20 minutes.
  7. When chicken is coolish, remove the skin and shred the chicken off the bone. (Also, save the juices.) Julienne the crispy skin. Set the chicken and, separately, the skin, aside.
  8. When all components are ready, set the sauce pan with the sauce over low heat. Add the barley (drained if there is liquid left), chicken juices, 1/2 cup grated smoked gouda, 1/2 cup currants, and the chicken. Stir until cheese begins to melt in. Taste for seasonings, and serve warm, garnished with the chicken skin.


Serve with a cup of red wine and something dark chocolate for dessert.

LEFTOVER IDEAS: This will keep in the fridge a few days and re-warm well. Just splash with water, heat, and taste for seasonings. Discard (or stand there and eat) leftover chicken skin.

*Recipe changed from the original.





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