Sunday, 22 February 2009

Chicken Barley Stew with a Puff Pastry Lid

“From morning till night, sounds drift from the kitchen, most of them familiar and comforting....On days when warmth is the most important need of the human heart, the kitchen is the place you can find it; it dries the wet sock, it cools the hot little brain.”
E.B.White (1899-1985)

It is true that many of us are missing lighter, spring and summer fare right about now, but the recent snow flurries in our area have us thinking comfort food again. This week for Souper Sunday, I have made a Chicken Barley Stew with a Puff Pastry Lid. The chicken is left over from a roast chicken I had made the day before and the stock is from that very same bird. A great way to stretch out leftovers, yummy too!

Chicken Barley Stew with a Puff Pastry Lid
A thick stew to warm you up

Olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
10 mushrooms, sliced
2 parsnips, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced

I quart homemade chicken stock
½ cup white wine
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
½ cup barley

1 tbsp Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
One sheet butter puff pastry
Egg, lightly beaten with a small splash of water, milk or cream in it for egg wash.

Preheat oven to 400f.
Have oven safe bowls, ramekins or casseroles ready - the amount you need depends on the size you use.

In a heavy bottom pot, heat up olive oil and add all vegetables and cook, stirring, on medium/high until beginning to become tender - about 10 minutes.
Add chicken stock and white wine and bring to a boil.
Reduce to simmer and add barley and Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer gently until barley is almost cooked. Correct seasoning to taste.

Fill oven safe dishes almost to the top.
Roll out puff pastry for lids. Cut to size, just larger than the dish.
Brush beaten eggs over the lip of each dish and apply the puff pastry. Seal with your fingers and make a couple of quick vents with the tip of a knife.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
You can use some of the scraps for decorative additions if you wish.
Bake on a baking sheet on the middle rack until golden and puffed, about 20-25 minutes.

Mmmm, just like a warm hug on a cold day.