Apparently barley goes in beef stews. I didn’t know that before, but when I asked what to do with barley several of you mentioned that that’s what your mothers did with it, or that’s what you do with it, and since I hate to be left out, that’s what I decided to do with it, too. Since I’m not much of a beef-eater, I steered my searches toward the poultry end of the spectrum and came up with this recipe for chicken and barley chili. I thought it was fitting since I don’t know how many times in the past week or so I’ve said, “It’s kind of chilly in here.” Or, “Boys, let’s get our jackets on before we go, it’s chilly outside.” Or, “We need to get some real shoes for the boys now that it’s a little more chilly.”

And then it was a balmy 70 degrees today and we could have worn flip-flops. Actually, Manchild did wear his flip-flops, with his hoodie of course, because that’s how he rolls. It’s one of the things I like best about him.

We still had the chili for dinner tonight, even if it wasn’t so chilly outside. And we liked it. And I realized that even though I thought I didn’t know what barley was, I’ve been eating it in soups for years and loving it. You’d better believe it is going to be a frequent visitor at our table this winter.

Chicken and Barley Chili adapted from The Cilantropist

serves 4-6

1 T. vegetable oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

salt and pepper

2 cups chicken broth

1 4 oz. can diced green chilis

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup pearl barley

1 cup frozen corn

1 15 oz. can of black beans (I only used about a cup since I cook my own beans and that is what I had prepared)

2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped in 1/2 inch dice (about 2 cups)

optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, chopped avocado

Heat oil over medium heat in a medium-large pot. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste and cook for a minute or so. Add the diced chilis, tomatoes, broth, and barley. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 35-40 minutes, until barley is soft and cooked through. Add the corn, beans, and chicken and bring to a boil again, then cover, reduce heat, and let simmer 5 more minutes. Add more water if you like as the chili will thicken as it cools. Serve warm with whatever toppings you choose.

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