Family Food: Slow Cooker Chicken & Barley Stew
Well, winter is creeping in, which means its time to dust off the slow cooker!
If you haven’t got one they are sooo handy for busy parents on the go – throw everything in in the morning and have a delicious dinner waiting for you in the evening.
You can adapt pretty much any soup or stew recipe for the slow cooker – just bear in mind the liquid doesn’t evaporate like cooking on the hob or oven, so not so much liquid. You may also need to layer things like root vegetables on the bottom and things that cook quicker towards the top. There are more great tips for using slow cookers here.
Here is one of my favourite recipes for a slow cooker family meal – you can cook it on the hob or in the oven also, just adjust the time.
Slow Cooker Chicken and Barley Stew
- 1 small chicken either left whole or jointed depending on what you prefer (you need to cook the whole chicken longer)
- 2 Carrots peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1 Parsnip peeled and chopped into chunks
- 2 Celery sticks as chunky as you like
- 2 Leeks washed and finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons barley
- fresh thyme
- chopped fresh parsley
- zest of half a lemon
- salt and black pepper to taste
Really all you need to do here is chuck all the vegetables and thyme into the slow cooker and add the barley and stir.
Place the chicken on top and then pour enough water to cover the vegetables (you don’t need to cover the chicken if its whole.
Pop on the lid and leave to cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5 or 6 depending on whether the chicken is whole (this depends on your slow cooker too – check the manual).
About half an hour before its ready to eat, open the lid and chuck in the lemon zest and parsley and stir into the liquid.
I generally add seasoning after cooking so I’m not giving the baby too much salt but you can season before its cooked if you like.
Serve with nice crusty bread or potatoes (mash is yummy) if you like!