If you are wondering why I have published two savoury recipes in a row, don't worry, I haven't lost my sweet teeth. The reason is simply that we still have a ridiculous amount of goodies from Christmas so baking doesn't need to be done. Yes, it is killing me, especially now that my homemade vanilla extract is now ready to be used, so I've had to experiment with dinners instead. A large part of me wishes I had lost my insatiable craving for sugar because I don't have the will power to curb it the normal way. Alas, it doesn't seem to be lessening anytime soon and with me there is no such thing as a sweetness overload. Just about the only thing I don't like sugar mixed into is tea and cereal.
So this dinner. It is very similar to the Turkey, Ham and Veg Baked Risotto that was my last recipe. Howverm apart from the pearl barley replacing the rice, there is one key difference. This sauce. All credit goes to Lindsay from Pinch of Yum for this. She is entirely right, you do want to eat it straight from the blender. I may have done that with a few spoonfuls. Just for quality control purposes you understand. It tastes divine. Rich, indulgent, decadent and completely, 100% guilt free. The reason? It is made from cauliflower. Seriously. Yes, if you have sensitive tastes buds you can tell but I promise you, you will be concentrating more on the creaminess than anything else. No word of a lie.
I'm pretty sure the possibilities for this sauce are endless. Lindsay thought so too which is why she has written an ebook full of recipes using it. Many, many experiments will be performed using this sauce I predict and I'll be sure to let you know the results. In this meal I paired it with leftover roast chicken, bacon, semi-caramelised onions (I was too lazy to wait for full caramelisation), carrots, sprouts and pearl barley, the latter being somehting else I haven't tried before but am now loving. The crumby topping is actually crushed Ryvita. I got funny looks from both by parents when I told them but I didn't want to use crushed Pringles as I thought the salt would ruin the flavour. The Ryvita needed using up anyway because they were going stale and I liked it - it was interesting.
There are lots of lovely flavours going on in this dish but they are all typical Sunday dinner flavours so they don't clash in the slightest. Instead they meld together to provide something beautiful. Chunks of roasted chicken coupled with flavoursome smoked bacon. Nuggets of veg dispersed throughout with a hint of caramelisation. Texture from the barley and an silky hug from the sauce encasing the whole lot. Use any crunchy topping you wish or leave it off if you prefer but whatever direction you take, give this one a go.
Chicken and Bacon Pearl Barley Bake
An immensely tasty bake which is full of flavour while giving a good contribution to your five-a-day. It tastes indulgent from the creamy sauce but it is actually pretty healthy.
- Spray oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 15 sprouts, dirty leaves removed then quartered
- ground black pepper
- ground nutmeg
- 2-3 rashers smoked bacon, well trimmed
- leftover roast chicken
- 1 pint chicken/veg stock
- 150g pearl barley
- 3 Ryvita crackers
- Grated cheese for sprinkling
- 1 batch this sauce
1. A hour or so before starting soak the barley in half the stock. (This is only necessary if you aren't keen on al dente pearly barley. Leave this step out if you like it so.)2. Heat a frying pan while the oven heats to 200 C/180 C fan. Spray with a little oil then add the onions. Start to soften then add the bacon followed by the carrots and sprouts. Add pepper and parsley to taste then stir together and leave, covered until the onion has softened a little longer.3. Add the barley and its soaking stock to the pan and mix together. Add as much of the sauce as you wish, mix then transfer to a large ovenproof dish. 4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 mins to 1 hour depending on how soft you like the veg and barley. For the last 10 mins, remove the foil and sprinkle on the Ryvita. Sprinkle on the cheese when just before serving.
I'm also entering this into Four Seasons Food where the theme is virtuous meals this month. This neither looks nor sounds virtuous but seeing as the creamy sauce is made from veg, it has more veg in the filling and the meats are pretty lean I think it is virtuous while making you feel comfortably naughty. The challenge is a joint venture between Louisa from Eat Your Veg and Anneli from Delicieux.The last challenge I'm going to share this dish with is Feel Good Food. Victoria over at A Kick at the Pantry Door has chosen the theme 'Tasty and Inexpensive' this month and seeing as this is definitley tasty and using up leftovers makes it reasonably inexpensive, I think it fits the theme.