Another comfort food I remember from my youth is a barley soup or stew my mother used to make. Back in the 30’s and 40s many electric stoves had a deep well cooker that made the soups, stew, beans. I remember the great taste her recipe gave.
These days a crock pot is used as a separate appliance to make these same slow cooked dishes. My mother used beef chunks for the stew she made. My version is similar I’m sure but does not involve the use of red meat. Slow cooking seems to give soups and stews a much better flavor than the same things made in a hurry. This one is a good one, and like many crock pot dishes, the flavors seem to get better with age. Maybe we should schedule making our slow cooked meals two days ahead, then let them age and then reheat before serving instead of eating them the same day we make them.
Easy Chicken and Barley Crock Pot Stew
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
2 cups pearl barley
2 carrots, diced
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cups chicken broth (or water)
1 onion, minced
Note – This recipe will make a stew that may be thinner than you like. It could be served as is over rice, but if you want a thicker stew, you could coat the onion and chicken with flour and cook in a skillet as in step 1 below. This would give a “stand-alone” dish more the consistency of a casserole.
1 – Cook onion in a skillet on low heat until translucent.
2 – Dump onions and rest of ingredients into a crock pot cooker.
3 – Heat on high for 5 hours.