No.1 The Strand Chef
As the weather gets colder and we turn to soups and casseroles to warm us up, I thought it was time I shared another one pot wonder.
The family used to eat stews and casseroles made in the trusty old pressure cooker often during the cooler months, and one I do remember was a lamb casserole with lots of vegetables and pearl barley. The barley gave the casserole a unique taste and certainly bulked out the meal, making the dollar stretch further.
There wasn't much preparation for these meals – basically just chop everything up and cook all together until tender. The filling aspect of the barley meant that after dinner you basically sat around digesting the food and would be in no mood to do anything physical like wash the dishes, preferring instead to watch television or read a book. So these days after a hard day’s work on a cold day there is a way to warm you up and satisfy your hunger. Much like rolled oats do for you in the morning, pearl barley has the same effect in your evening meal. Get a few packets for the pantry. You can add to your soups as well as make a stuffing for the chicken. Here is my lamb and pearl barley casserole recipe, which I have used many times as a sustaining comfort meal.
Lamb and pearl barley casserole
600g diced lamb leg
150g pearl barley
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 leek, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 tablespoon dried or fresh thyme
Small sprig of rosemary
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Some diced kumara, potato, pumpkin optional
In a large heavy saucepan or crockpot add the diced meat and vegetables after sealing off in batches in a hot frying pan with a little oil. Add the tomato paste and cover with stock or water and bring up to a simmer. After 20 minutes, add the pearl barley and the herbs. Add more liquid as the barley absorbs it. Cook for another 40 minutes, making certain you stir it enough to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Adjust the seasoning and the moisture level, as the mix can become very thick. You can add any vegetables that you have, like silverbeet or even frozen peas to make this a true one pot dish. The lamb and barley flavours will dominate to make it a memorable and filling meal.