Chicken and barley stew

Chicken, leek and pearl barley stew with parsley dumplings


  1. Put the chicken into a deep, snug-fitting pan. Add the celery, onion, half the carrots, the bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt. Cover with 2 litres cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, then simmer for 1 hour until the chicken is cooked, turning it halfway through. Lift the chicken onto a plate, cover and set aside to cool slightly. (You can do this a day ahead and leave the chicken to cool in the liquid.)
  2. Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl, then return it to the pan, discarding the veg. Add the pearl barley, bring to a simmer, cover, then cook for 35-40 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, remove the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the skin, and tear it into small pieces.
  3. Melt the butter in a large flameproof casserole (at least 4 litre capacity), add the bacon lardons and fry gently for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden. Add the remaining carrots, leeks and thyme and stir together well. Cover and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the pearl barley/stock mixture to the veg along with the chicken. Season and bring back to a simmer.
  5. Meanwhile, for the dumplings, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Stir in the suet and parsley, then add 75-100ml cold water – just enough to make a soft, sticky dough. Using a spoon, divide the mixture into equal-size balls and drop them on top of the stew. Cover and simmer for a further 20 minutes until the dumplings have puffed up and a skewer inserted into one comes out clean. Serve the stew in deep bowls.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, courgettes and leeks and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until softened.

  • Pour in the chicken stock and water and add the thyme, bay leaves, pearl barley and dried porcini. Stir and bring to a gentle simmer.

  • Lay the chicken in the casserole, season generously with pepper and simmer gently for 1 hour, turning the chicken over halfway through cooking.

  • Lift the chicken out of the broth onto a plate and allow to cool a little. Remove and discard the thyme and bay leaves from the broth. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and shred into bite-sized pieces.

  • Bring the broth back to a simmer and stir in the cavolo nero and peas. Cook for 2 minutes, then return the chicken to the soup and stir well. Taste to check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

  • Ladle into warmed bowls and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Best served with grated Parmesan.

    This recipe was taken from Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start: How to cook amazing food at home