Roasted sage barley with chicken legs

Selling this as a one-pot recipe would be slightly disingenuous, although it’s finished off in one oven dish. But roasting the chicken legs on top of the pearl barley means that all the juices soak directly into the barley, retaining the lovely chickenyness! If you’re one for serving whole dishes and then plating up at the table, this certainly makes it easier.

This makes a really tasty lunch – one chicken leg per person is just enough with a mound of barley. Don’t forget that barley can be quite filling so if you want to pump this up for a dinner rather than lunch, you should follow the recipe in terms of the barley but just replace the two legs with 6 or 8 chicken thighs.

Serves 2

150g chestnut mushroom
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
Multiple knobs of salted butter
250g pearl barley, thoroughly washed
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 chicken stock cube
2 chicken legs
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
120g fine green beans
A handful of parsley, chopped

  1. Finely chop the mushrooms and fry in some vegetable oil and butter in a large saucepan on a high heat. Continue to cook until all of the water has evaporated and the mushrooms are brown
  2. Add the garlic and pearl barley, and continue to cook for a further minute
  3. Take off from the heat before pouring boiling water over the mix, bringing it to about an inch above the surface of the barley. Add the stock cube and sage, season well, and carefully tip into an oven dish. Leave to one side
  4. In a frying pan, fry off the chicken legs until browned on the skin side. Place the legs on top of the barley in the baking dish before sprinkling the paprika over the chicken
  5. Add seasoning and a knob of butter on top of each leg and place the dish on the top shelf in a preheated oven at 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Set the timer for 50 minutes
  6. When there are 15 minutes left on the timer, blanch the green beans in hot water (off the heat) for 5 minutes
  7. Then, remove the barley/chicken dish from the oven and carefully remove the chicken legs. Stir in the blanched green beans and the parsley into the barley, before replacing the legs back on top of the barley. At this point the liquid should almost be completely absorbed
  8. Place back in the oven and cook for the remaining 10 minutes at a higher heat of 220C/450F/Gas Mark 8, before serving. Enjoy!

Top tips

  • When cooking off the barley in the saucepan, treat it like risotto. You want to coat the grains in the oil and mushrooms, and cook for a bit before adding the water
  • Taking the chicken off to add the beans, only to then replace them back on top seems a faff, but a worthwhile faff. If the beans were cooked raw within the barley mix, any heads that poke above the surface will be scorched and taste bitter
  • A couple of times throughout the roasting, I basted the chicken with the yet-to-be-absorbed liquid to stop the skin being too dry, and keep the chicken tender.

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