Hearty chicken, barley & vegetable


  • 1 cup pearl barley, soaked overnight, then drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch Dutch or heirloom carrots
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra
  • 1 leek (white part only), finely chopped
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  •  2 tbsp mirin or a splash of white wine
  • 6 cups homemade stock (either vegetable or chicken)
  • 4 cups shredded kale or silverbeet
  • 8 medium mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 chicken breasts, diced into chunks
  • freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
Note: You can also throw in some thyme and a couple of bay leaves. I didn’t have any, so went without. It was still delicious though!


Preheat oven to 180ºC and lightly oil carrots before roasting for 30 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, slice into 1 cm-thick rounds and set aside.

Next, heat the oil in a large heavy-based pot. Sweat the onions, leek, garlic and celery for about 10 minutes.

Then add the pearl barley and stir continually as you sauté for a couple of minutes.

Add the mirin (or white wine), and once it has evaporated, add the stock. Turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and check periodically to make sure there’s enough stock (you could always add some more if needed). I also used a diffuser so that the barley doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. The pearl barley will take an hour or so to cook. Longer if you’re using organic pearl barley.

Once the barley is cooked (I check by tasting it), add the mushroom, chicken and kale. Simmer for another 10 minutes to make sure the chicken is cooked, then stir through the carrots and lemon juice, and season to taste.

Poached chicken & stock

poached chicken and stockDuring the cooler months my body craves comfort food – not the processed stuff that you get in supermarkets, but homemade soups, casseroles and curries. Yum!

For the soups and casseroles, a flavoursome, quality stock is in order. I’ve always been lazy about making stock. I made it for the first time only a couple of months ago. (tsk tsk!)

What inspired me to make my stock was a recipe for poached chicken – which I’d never made before either – in Jude Blereau’s Coming home to eat. Basic principle: you poach the chicken in water, and then use the same water to make the stock – hooray for efficient and economical cooking!


Inspired by Jude


  • 1 whole organic chicken (I used a 1.6 kg chicken)
  • 4 celery sticks, roughly chopped (I used the leaves too)
  • 3 carrots, scrubbed (not peeled), roughly chopped
  • 1 brown onion (I left the peel on), quartered
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • feel free to add any other herbs and vegetables you like


Put all the ingredients into a large pot. Add enough water so that the chicken is just covered. Bring to a boil then simmer on low heat for about 45-60 minutes, or until the meat is cooked. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the bird. (My 1.6 kg chicken took about 60 minutes.) 

Keep the stove on low heat, and carefully remove the poached chicken and place it into a large bowl or dish. Remove the breasts, legs and wings (leave the skin on so the meat stays moist) and place the carcass back into the pot. Make sure that the meat is covered with enough juices so that it remains moist. You could always add some from the pot, if there’s not enough. Then cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and allow the meat to cool.

Meanwhile, simmer the stock for another 1–2 hours, and then strain into a large bowl to cool. Discard the solids. (I usually pull off any meat that’s on the carcass and give it to my 4-legged munchkins. 🙂 ) Once the stock has cooled, store in containers and freeze. 

You can use the poached chicken straight away, or store in the fridge for later use. I like to use it in sandwiches, hearty soups and shredded in a light broth with soba noodles.