Cebada con Pollo - SEPT 27
Everybody knows Arroz con Pollo, but as I point out to the edge (?) of tedium, I need to avoid too much arroz. Barley is a much healthier choice, and fortunately it goes with chicken just as well as rice. It does make it slower to cook, but not really any harder.
This was one of the dishes my parents learned to make when we lived in Mexico when I was very young, and it has remained a favourite with everyone ever since, and has also become much more widely known.
You can make this all winter - it's a great winter dish - with greenhouse peppers, pickled Jalapeños, and canned tomatoes but there is no doubt it is particularly nice at this time of year when all those things can be had fresh from the garden.
Cook the Barley:
1 cup barley
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups water
Put these into the rice cooker and cook. This can be done up to a day in advance.
Finish the Dish:
450 grams (1 pound) red peppers
3 small red onions
1 to 3 Jalapeño peppers
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
1 kg (2 pounds) chicken pieces
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
2 cups crushed or chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 cup water OR chicken stock
Wash, core, and dice the peppers. Peel and chop or sliver the onions. Wearing gloves, wash, core, and dice the Jalapeños. Peel and mince the garlic. Blot the chicken dry with a bit of paper towel.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Heat the oil in a large oven-proof skillet or stove-top safe casserole. Brown the chicken pieces well, then transfer them to a plate. If there is excess fat left in the pan, drain if off until there is just enough to sauté the vegetables.
Sauté the peppers and onions until softened and partially cooked. Add the Jalapeños and garlic and cook for another minute or two. Then, add the tomatoes and water or stock. Mix well. Add the barley and mix it in well, then nestle the chicken pieces into it, so they are mostly submerged but the top layer of skin stays out to get crispy.
Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 50 minutes to an hour, until the chicken is done. Let rest for 5 or 10 minutes, then serve.
Last year at this time I made Chicken 65.