close up of plate of Smothered Chicken and Barley
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4.27 from 19 votes

Moroccan Smothered Chicken and Barley

Does this Moroccan Smothered Chicken and Barley sound exotic? It is a heavenly spiced, tender and juicy chicken dish that is a one pan meal made with barley. This is an adapted recipe from an old magazine tear out I had and I have since added and changed the ingredients over time to my tastes, but I believe it to be from Sunset or Cooking Light circa 1990s.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Dinner, Main
Cuisine: Moroccan
Keyword: chicken and barley
Servings: 6
Calories: 510kcal
Author: Kevin Is Cooking

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp dried mint flakes
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne powder
  • 2 lbs chicken thighs (6 boneless and skinless)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil separated
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • cups barley (See Note 1)
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes drained
  • 6 chopped green onions

Instructions

  • Combine the first eight ingredients in a small bowl and rub the chicken thighs with half of the spice mixture.

For the Stove Top One Pan Method

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the chicken until browned on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the onion, bell pepper and add the soy sauce. Cook over medium heat for several minutes until slightly brown.
  • Add the broth, pearled barley, tomatoes and remaining spice mixture. Place the 6 browned chicken thighs in between the vegetable mixture evenly. Bring this to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 50 minutes.
  • Uncover and let stand 15 minutes to completely absorb all liquids. Sprinkle with the green onions and serve.

For the Baked Casserole Method

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. 
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the chicken until browned on each side. Remove from pan and place in a casserole 13x9" casserole dish. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the onion, bell pepper and add the soy sauce. Cook over medium heat for several minutes until slightly brown.
  • Add the broth, hulled barley, tomatoes and remaining spice mixture. Bring this to a boil. Carefully pour barley and vegetable mixture over chicken in casserole dish. Cover with lid or aluminum foil and bake for 65 minutes. Uncover, fluff barley with fork. If all liquid has not been absorbed, cover and cook 5 more minutes.
  • Uncover and let stand 15 minutes to completely absorb all liquids. Sprinkle with the green onions and serve.

Notes

  1. There are 2 different kinds of barley: hulled and pearl.
    Hulled barley has had the tough, inedible outermost hull removed but still retains its bran and endosperm layer. It is the most nutritious of the two and can be considered a whole grain. A light golden brown in color, it’s the nuttier and chewier version as well.
    Pearl barley has been polished to remove the bran and possibly even the endosperm layers, resulting in a pale, creamy-colored grain. It is less chewy and cooks faster than the hulled variety, but has less fiber, is less nutritious, and is not considered a whole grain. Most people are familiar with pearl barley, especially as an ingredient in beef-barley soup.
    One cup of hulled barley will yield three cups cooked. Hulled barley can take 20 to 25 minutes longer to cook than pearl and will absorb less liquid.
    This information is from Dana Velden, thekitchn.com

Nutrition

Calories: 510kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 725mg | Potassium: 757mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 25% | Vitamin C: 53% | Calcium: 7.7% | Iron: 22%