If you have read my blog you know I am a huge fan of The Gefilte Manifesto. Not many cookbooks can have hit after hit. I am usually happy with a cookbook if I get 3-4 successful recipes. With this book though I have yet to have a miss. I am up to eight amazing recipes. Not only do they have flavors that wow but the recipes are simple. By that I mean they are well written, straight forward, and if you take your time you will end up with something delicious. This weeks dinner, Roasted Chicken with Barley and Vegetables, is a testament to the brilliance of their recipes.
When I got this cookbook I had been longing to find modern recipes for traditional Jewish cuisine. It was a weird journey to encounter this cookbook but boy am I glad I did. All the recipes are fresh and original but at the same time celebrate the heritage and tradition it’s founded on. So far I have made:
- Everything Bagel Butter
- Seeded Honey Rye Pull-Apart Rolls
- Wine Braised Brisket
- Cauliflower and Mushroom Kugel
- Home-cured Corned Beef
- Home-Cured Pastrami
- Crispy Chicken with Tsimmes
A good Jewish cookbook needs to have a rye bread, brisket, and kugel. It seems to me as these are the staples of Jewish cuisine. However, when you see the cover of this cookbook you see this beautifully wrapped fish. Once you crack the book open you quickly learn there is so much to this book. There’s gefilte fish, matzo, and so much more! All made from scratch with clean fresh flavors. If I could only pass down one cookbook to my future children I would want it to be this one. It’s achievable regardless of your skill set and it teaches everything from making butter, to pickling, to brining, to kombucha and so much more!
I have eaten A LOT of baked chicken in my life. It was a staple growing up. Doing both the Crispy Chicken Tsimmes and the Roasted Chicken with Barley and Vegetables taught me something very important. First, buy the best chicken you can. Cheap chicken is near impossible to make taste good unless it’s covered in lots of other stuff. Secondly, there are a couple cheats to having great chicken such as:
- In the Crispy Chicken you sear the skin side in a skillet before turning it skin side up and roasting it in the oven.
- In the Roasted Chicken with Barley they have you pat dry the chicken pieces, rub it with minced garlic, salt and pepper, then drizzle with some olive oil or schmaltz and then bake.
- Lastly I highly suspect moisture in the oven plays a key part. In the Chicken Tsimmes there’s a good bit of liquid in the pan with the carrots, prunes, and chicken. In the Roast Chicken they have you put it on one rimmed baking sheet and then the barley and veggies on another and bake them together. I suspect the moisture keeps the chicken from drying out too much.
- The biggest tip though is in their recipe they tell you the chicken is done with the thickest part is at 165ºF. I don’t know why all recipes don’t tell you the internal temperature for doneness because my experience is that’s the most consistent way of knowing!
Making this dinner is pretty straight froward. It starts with cooking the barley but not all the way through.
In a small saucepan add:
- 150 grams Barley
- 1 Bayleaf
- A good pinch of Salt
- Water, to cover buy a couple inches
Bring to a boil then simmer for 18 minutes. After the barley is done simmering drain out the water and remove the bayleaf. Put the barley in a medium bowl. Add:
- 4 Green Onions, chopped t0 whatever your preference is, I went with about a ¼ diagonal slice
- 1 pound Button Mushrooms, sliced or chopped
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil or Schmaltz
Toss well, then spread out on a baking sheet. Don’t worry if it looks dry. As it bakes the vegetables will release liquid.
Preheat your oven to 425ºF and prep your chicken. Start buy making the garlic rub. In a small bowl add:
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 2 ½ teaspoons Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
Mix together well then rub on the chicken pieces. (I did this as directed which is to then drizzle with olive oil after rubbing the garlic on. I think the next time I do this I will add the olive oil to the garlic and toss the chicken with the garlic and oil to see if I can both get a better application and have it stick to the chicken better.)
Place the chicken on a separate baking sheet. (I lined mine with foil.) Place the chicken in the oven on the top rack and the barley in the bottom rack. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the thickest part of your chicken reads 165ºF when checked with an instant read thermometer.
Place the chicken in a platter to rest. Scrape the barley and veggies into a serving bowl. Add in any dripping from the baking sheet that had the chicken. Add:
- 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
Toss well and serve.
I can’t even express how amazing this smells and tastes. Since I make one dinner to last Monday – Thursday every week I put the barley mixture in an airtight container. (I weighed it in the container, divided the weight by eight to get four nights of dinner for two people, and wrote that on a piece of tape I put on the lid.) I then put one chicken breast in each of the four additional containers.
To serve, I spooned the barley and veggies on to the plates by the weight written on the container. Next, I sliced the chicken breasts into ½ thick slices putting half of the breast on top of each pile of barley. (It ended up being about 4 ounces of chicken per serving.) Then placed a microwave cover over the plate and warmed it at 60% for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. It comes out perfect! This is definitely going to be a dinner that will be made again and again!