Why is it that with the mere mention of stew, my automatic reaction is “mmmmmmm”. I’m instantly transported to a cozy place! It’s just so darn comforting having a bowl of warm, mixed vegetables and hearty herbs in front of you.
I’m currently devouring a plate-full while watching Stranger Things 2 and highly recommend you do the same. It’s a strangely pleasant combination of feeling slightly creeped out and cozy at the same time, ha! I suppose that’s the most appropriate way to feel this close to Halloween? (Side note, where is Barb and when is she coming back into our lives?!)
Ok, back to the food, concentrate Kelly! Aren’t you also super in love with the fact that stew actually gets better with time? I love how the flavors develop even more as it sits for a day or so.
I’m fully obsessed with barley so I had to make barley the star of the show in this recipe. Honestly, I’m fully convinced that I will turn into a legume at some point in my life. Like, why am I so incredibly satisfied eating a bowl of barley or lentils that have been boiled in chicken broth and that’s it? Are you the same? Should we get that checked out by a professional? No, we’re cool.
I used some of my Fall veggie favorites like leeks, carrots and celery. In my opinion though it’s the spices and herbs that steal the show. I made sage the featured fresh herb as it’s the ultimate in savory coziness. I used a spoonful of allspice. The brand I use is from the Middle East so it’s pretty strong. I would imagine you don’t have a mother-in-law that brings you spices from the Middle East (PS – you should get yourself one of those, they’re the sweetest!) so if you want the same ‘ka-POW’ action then I would toss in a bit more cinnamon and nutmeg.
The last, and most important key to a great stew is your equipment. For far too long I was using a really thin dutch oven and my meats were coming out slightly dry and overcooked no matter what I did. My Gramma (also the sweetest) shipped me this thick dutch oven by Martha Stewart and it is constant use when the cold rolls in! It will make the meat in your stew super tender and all the flavors really come together.
Ok y’all, this is where I leave you to make dinner for tonight! I got about a week’s worth of dinners out of this one so you’ll be set for the week too. Hallelujah for meal prep, right?! Enjoy all the spooky Halloween events coming up and let me know how this one turns out for you in the comments below! Thoughts on Stranger Things 2 are also welcomed 🙂
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- 1/4 all-purpose flour
- 3 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 cups pearled barley
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 leek, cleaned thoroughly, pale and white parts only, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup carrots, thinly sliced
- 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 7 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 chicken bouillon cube
- 1 tbsp allspice
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 6-8 sage leaves
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp pepper
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- In a medium bowl, mix the flour with a bit of salt and pepper. Add the chicken and mix until fully coated. Shake off the excess flour.
- Heat oil in a cast-iron dutch oven over medium heat on your stove top. Add the chicken and cook until just slightly brown on each side. Remove the chicken and set aside.
- Add the carrots and cook until soft. Add the leeks, garlic, celery and allspice and cook until soft and fragrant (about 3 minutes).
- Add the barley and a bit more salt and pepper. Stir and allow the barley to cook for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and scrape up anything stuck to the bottom of the pan. Throw in the thyme sprigs and sage leaves and cover. Turn the heat to low and allow to cook for about 20 minutes until barley is soft.
- Return chicken to the pan and cover again. Cook for about 10 minutes until stew is thickened and chicken is cooked thoroughly. Add in lemon juice and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir and serve warm.