pot-braised chicken and barley

serves 4-6, hands-on time 20 minutes, oven time 2½ hours, plus resting

If you have any leftovers, strip the meat from the chicken, then stir it into the barley to keep it moist. It can be stored for a few days in the fridge.

Olive oil for frying
6 banana shallots, quartered
4 medium carrots, thickly sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
4-5 fresh rosemary sprigs
200g pearl barley
300ml dry white wine
1 litre fresh chicken stock
2kg British free-range chicken
200g spinach
80g full-fat crème fraîche
Bunch fresh flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
Lemon juice to taste

A lidded casserole big enough to hold a chicken

Heat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/ gas 2. Heat a glug of oil in a large casserole with a lid and add the shallots and carrots. Fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Season with salt and pepper, then add the garlic, thyme and rosemary. Fry for 2-3 more minutes, stirring often.

Add the barley, wine and stock, then sit the chicken on top. Cover with the lid (if it doesn't fit, cover with foil). Put the casserole in the oven for 2 hours 15 minutes, then turn up the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7 and remove the lid/foil. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is golden.

Remove the chicken and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes. Joint the bird if you wish. Stir through the spinach, cover and leave for 3-4 minutes until the spinach has wilted. Remove the lid and add the crème fraîche, parsley and lemon juice to taste. Serve the barley with the chicken.

PER SERVING (FOR 6) 560kcals, 15g fat (5.5g saturated), 59.5g protein, 35.6g carbs (7.9g sugars), 0.4g salt, 4.5g fibre





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