Take 5: Onions, chicken, smoked paprika, barley, tomatoes.
This is a one-dish dinner. I love barley and happily use it instead of rice in a recipe like this. I find barley nutty and chewy – it also takes longer to eat, so perhaps we eat a little less than we’d be tempted to do with rice. And barley is a super food too.
I like the idea of cooking chicken partly submerged into rice or barley, as the chicken juices flavour the grains and transform the meal as a whole into something more special than if you cooked the ingredients separately. I would normally use a heavy pan or cast iron casserole for this, but I only had an electric wok and that worked perfectly well.
Splash some olive oil in the pan and caramelise four sliced onions. Remove from the pan and set aside. Sprinkle chicken pieces heavily with salt, pepper and 2 teaspoons smoked paprika.
Brown the chicken (skin-side down) in a little more oil. Remove the chicken and put the onion back in the pan – along with 1 big cup barley, 2 cans chopped tomatoes and 1 can water. Put the chicken on top and push it down into the liquid so it is mostly submerged.
Put a lid on your dish and allow it to simmer till the chicken and barley are cooked – about 30-35 minutes. Check the seasoning before serving.
If you want to go further with this, you could add broccoli, beans or zucchini towards the end of cooking. Just let them steam on top of the chicken and your vegetable requirements are covered.
Other possible additions would be: chilli, a handful of currants, fresh herbs such as parsley or coriander – or a handful of cocktail tomatoes sliced in half for a burst of extra colour. You could always make a bit of a party of this by putting a collection of optional extras into bowls on the table and letting people help themselves to what they like. Just have fun with it – try grated cheese, sour cream, yogurt, chilli sauce or whatever you fancy. You could even increase the recipe and cook it in the oven in a roasting dish covered with foil to serve a large group of people.