Julia Gallagher: Thai Chicken Barley Risotto

Posted on January 2, 2015

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And the final installment of #MBrecipes is brought to you by Production Manager Julia Gallagher! (all recipes are collected at mixedbloodblog.com)
JG: “Being married to a chef, it is rare that I actually get to cook anymore (I do bake, but I miss cooking sometimes). So I surprised myself when asked to share a favorite recipe, I immediately thought of this one. It’s super delicious and I always feel accomplished. Also, while I use the concept of the recipe as written, it has a lot of room to play around and make it slightly different every time! So, below is the recipe (source: Cooking Light) with all of my add-ons/alternatives/adjustments. This comes together pretty quickly, but can take awhile to prep (unless you have a chef in your house who you can make cut up everything into perfectly even pieces for you… not that I’d ever do that…)”
Thai Chicken Barley Risotto
THAI CHICKEN BARLEY RISOTTO
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon sesame oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped green onions, divided
2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (JG: or homemade broth, or veggie broth… also the Cooking Light origins are starting to show)
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced (JG: I only use 1… I’m a spice wimp)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red curry paste (JG: Also works with green curry paste if that’s your preference)
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh lemongrass
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 1 pound) (JG: I also will often make this recipe with pork tenderloin and I never pre-cook our protein… Probably would be good with shrimp too if you are a seafood-lover. Or leave it out if you want a veggie dish. See modifications in cooking instructions below)
1 1/4 cups red bell pepper strips
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed (JG: So, I use all sorts of different veggies depending on what I have on hand, is in season, or looks good at the store. Some favorites are carrots, asparagus or spinach)
1 cup light coconut milk (JG: Let’s be real… I only use light about half the time!)
4 teaspoons chopped peanuts

Preparation:
Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup onions and 1 tablespoon garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in barley, 1/4 cup cilantro, salt, black pepper, 1/2 cup broth, and jalapeños; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next… about 15 minutes. (JG: So, you definitely want to have everything pre-chopped for this step… You are essentially making a risotto, just with barley instead of rice, so you do really have to stir constantly and add everything quickly).

Combine lime juice and next 5 ingredients (juice through curry paste); set aside.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup onions, 1 tablespoon garlic, lemongrass, and ginger; sauté 1 minute. (JG: I never pre-cook my protein, so this is when I add in my chicken or pork and then I cook til mostly done). Add chicken, bell pepper, and peas; sauté 2 minutes (JG: Cooking time here depends on your veggies—carrots need longer for example. Try to add your veggies in in an order that makes sense for your cooking time). Stir in barley mixture, juice mixture, and milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat (JG: If you are using spinach, here is where to add that); simmer 5 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/4 cup cilantro. Sprinkle each serving with 1 teaspoon nuts.

This also freezes pretty well

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Posted in: #MBrecipes