Home-Cooked Sunday: Balsamic Chicken With Grains and Greens

This easy one-pot meal pairs superfood greens with healthy whole-grain barley.

May 9, 2014
Balsamic Chicken
Quentin Bacon

Adapted from The Family Cooks

The goal: Cook one meal with your family, your spouse, or the person you love most, to eat Sunday evening, and you'll have enough leftover to eat a home-cooked meal a few more nights of the week!


Here is a saucy chicken for you! With both greens and grains, this is a one-pot dinner you can just slide onto the table with a bright salad and a crunchy whole-grain baguette.

Balsamic Chicken With Grains and Greens
Makes 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 to 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour

12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Olive oil, for the pot
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces mushrooms (button, shiitake, or your favorite), sliced (about 3 cups)
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cans (14 ounces each) diced tomatoes with their juices, or 3½ cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 cup pearled barley
3 cups chopped greens, such as kale, chard, or collards

*Why the thigh? When you cook chicken slowly in a lot of liquid, it tends to dry out (strange but true), which is why it is wise to use dark meat, which is naturally moister. And besides, a chicken is not just a breast.

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and position the rack in the lower third.

2. Toss together the chicken, ½ teaspoon salt, and the thyme in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. Heat a Dutch oven or large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Drizzle it with enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add the onion, mushrooms, and garlic and cook until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and let sizzle for a minute. Add the tomatoes and barley and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and black pepper or pepper flakes to taste (it will taste quite tart but the flavors will mellow down as they cook).


4. Gently bury the chicken thighs in the pot, add enough water to just cover the chicken (about 1 cup), and return to a simmer. Slide the pot into the oven and braise, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven and fold in the greens; add more water if it seems dry. Cover the pot and return to the oven to braise until the barley is tender, about 20 minutes. Taste! ... Does it need a final splash of balsamic to brighten the flavor? Some salt or pepper flakes?

Play With It!
• Once you have added the chicken to the pot, stir in 1 tablespoon each capers and mustard.
• Garnish with plenty of parsley.