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Chicken, Mushroom and Barley Casserole

An ancient grain, barley has a pleasantly chewy texture and a sweet, nutty flavor. This recipe calls for hulled barley, which is the most nutritious form; only the outer husk of the grain has been removed (the bran is still intact).

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup hulled barley
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. chopped yellow onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 lb. brown mushrooms, brushed clean and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 green onions, white and light green portions, chopped

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the barley and 1/2 tsp. of the salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the barley is tender and most of the water is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Drain in a coarse-mesh sieve to remove any excess water and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a deep, ovenproof sauté pan or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken thighs, skin side down, and sprinkle with the rosemary, the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and the pepper. Cook until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook until golden brown on the other side, 4 to 5 minutes more. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat in the pan and add the celery, yellow onion, garlic and pine nuts. Sauté until the vegetables are soft, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the barley, mushrooms and broth. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt.

Transfer the pan to the oven and cook, uncovered, until the mushrooms are tender and the chicken meat slips easily from the bones, 15 to 20 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, sprinkle the green onions over the top.

Serve hot, directly from the pan or in a warmed serving bowl. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Eating by Color, by Georgeanne Brennan, Dana Jacobi & Annabel Langbein (Oxmoor House, 2007).