I’ve never considered doing anything with pearl barley other than sticking it in broth but since getting The Thug Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas (it’s mother fucking excellent) I’ve been playing around with it. Cooks like rice but with so much more body and rough to it, once baked it’s silken and luxurious. Baking it helps it absorb flavours and a great texture.

This was a using up meal I didn’t intend to blog, so no in progress photos just the end result.

You will need

  • A couple of handfuls of cooked chicken, not the breast, all the scratty, slightly greasy bits, chopped to spoon size
  • A red pepper sliced thinly
  • A red onion
  • A heaped desert spoon of spice mix (I used a premade Mexican mix)
  • Half a lemon
  • Half a mug of pearl barley
  • A couple of spoonful of the scrapings of the chicken roasting tin (burnt on bits, jelly, grease). If you’re not using up a roast chicken then a chicken stock cube and a good blob of butter would be a good replacement.


  1. Slice the the onion and stick it on to soften and turn golden.
  2. Turn the oven on 180oC
  3. Once the onions are done, stick the spiced in and give it a stir, give them a chance to cook though
  4. In your casserole dish mix in the chicken, onion/spice mix, peppers, barley and chicken stock/scrapings.
  5. Zest the lemon and juice, add both.
  6. Bake for about an hour with a lid on.


Velvety, savory, slightly greasy and satisfying. The lemon juice helps cut through grease, the zest is really apparent. A good scratch of black pepper won’t go a miss. It should be slightly too liquidy, almost risotto like.

Out of focus and badly framed but tasty