Barley Soup for Saint Paddy

Somehow, I went from a boiled supper (weird I know) to barley soup for this Irish holiday. Could be that I’m obsessing over Grist and Toll’s soda bread recipes, and soup is the perfect pairing for a proper dunk. (Regular flour will also work in these recipes, although I haven’t tried it. I also love this James Beard Soda bread recipe with tried and true results)  Roast up some garlic and use it like butter. For dessert? Guinness milkshakes. Make mine a chocolate.

 Barley Soup

Prep time: 45 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes Serves 10 (2 1/2 quarts)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup uncooked barley, soaked overnight if desired
6 cups water or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 yellow onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary 1/2 to 1 pound mushrooms (any combination), sliced or diced into bite-size pieces, including stems
2 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, diced
3/4 cup sherry, Marsala, or red wine
1/3 cup white or yellow miso
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

If you soaked the barley, drain it (no need to dry it). Sauté barley in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until you can smell it toasting, about 2 minutes. Add to soup pot, stir in water or stock and salt, cover, and bring to a boil.

While barley boils, sauté onion, rosemary, and bay leaves in remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add to the boiling barley in the soup pot. Sauté mushrooms in same pan over medium-high heat and add to pot when they start to brown. Add celery and carrots to the soup pot and reduce heat to simmer. Deglaze the sauté pan with wine, scraping up any tasty bits on the bottom. Cook over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 8 minutes, and add to pot. If the barley was soaked, it should be soft and ready. If it was not soaked, continue simmering until soft, about another 20 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot to avoid sticking after 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together miso and a scoop of liquid from the stockpot. When smooth, add back to the stockpot, with vinegar, sugar, and pepper. Stir, taste, and add salt and/or pepper if desired, keeping in mind that miso is salty!

How to roast garlic:

  Preheat oven to 350*. place many, many cloves of peeled garlic into a shallow pan.  Add some fresh or dried herbs that you love. I add a splash of coffee for color and flavor. Add enough olive oil to cover about 1/2 way up the cloves. Roast until golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Keep whole in olive oil in the fridge, or puree and use as a spread, or swirl into any savory recipe for another layer of flavor.

Photos by David.

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Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

It’s February 11th, and I haven’t done any creative cooking at home this month, as promised. I did however, make a delicious Cacciatore in January, that day it was cold. It was so cold, the puddles at Elysian Park were frozen over in the early morning. No kidding. This was a true “what’s in the cupboard?” meal, I’d rather serve it with papparadelle, but the linguini was just as satisfying.

Subs and changes: I didn’t have sausage, I added extra vegetables instead, I used white wine instead of red wine, and I didn’t have any capers or fresh basil either. (You’d think I’d have a plant on the porch at least, but I don’t.) AND I didn’t have any diced tomatoes. I added the whole jar of my favorite Tutti Frutti Heirloom Pomodoro and a little pasta water. I used a combination of herbs I had on hand and a sprig of rosemary from the front yard.

Chicken Cacciatore 

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes Cooking time: 50 to 55 minutes Serves 6 to 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms (any variety), sliced
2 cups chopped onion
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
2 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs or 1/2 teaspoon dried
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound Italian link sausage (chicken or pork)
4 Chicken thighs, skin removed, bone optional about a pound
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch logs
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups fresh or canned diced tomatoes, with juice
2 cups marinara sauce (from a jar is fine)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 teaspoon sugar, if needed
1/3 cup chopped or ripped basil

 Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onion and sauté until the onion turns translucent, about 8 minutes. Add Italian herbs, bay leaves, thyme, and garlic and sauté another minute. Add whole sausages and brown on all sides. Remove sausage with slotted spoon and set aside.

In the same skillet, increase heat to high and add chicken thighs skin side down first (even though the skin has been removed). Keep the thighs from touching while cooking, so the meat will sear properly. Sear on both sides. Once they are brown, add carrots, rosemary, and red wine and deglaze the pan, either working around the chicken or pushing it to the side of the pan. Once the tasty bits from the bottom of the pan are in the wine mixture, add diced tomatoes and marinara. When it starts to bubble, reduce heat to a simmer. Cut each sausage link into 4 pieces and drop it in the stew. It’s okay if it’s raw in the middle, it’ll cook in the cacciatore. Simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and scraping the bottom. Add vinegar and capers. Taste the sauce—if it’s a little sharp, add 1 teaspoon sugar (but the carrots should lend plenty of sweet). Garnish with basil and serve with gusto, over pasta, polenta and a Caesar salad.

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