January Comfort Food: Chicken and Pearl Barley Stew

January Comfort Food: Chicken and Pearl Barley Stew

January Comfort Food: Chicken and Pearl Barley Stew

I have a new kitchen toy, and I cannot stop playing with it as it’s so amazing! I have mentioned it before and shared a recipe when I used it too……..Cumbrian Chimney Pot Pie, I used the pressure cooker facility on this impressive piece of kitchen kit then; today’s recipe for Chicken and Pearl Barley Stew, which is quintessential January comfort food, uses the slow cooker function on the machine, and the machine in question is the Sage Fast, Slow, Pro……as combined pressure cooker and slow cooker in ONE appliance. If you have to buy one appliance this year, for ease of family meals and batch cooking, them I cannot recommend this highly enough – plus, it’s underwritten by Heston (Blumenthal), so it must have a bit of class about it!

Chicken and Pearl Barley Stew

I’ve used it extensively since receiving it just before Christmas, and it’s been so well used that I have made space for it on my kitchen counter – the ultimate test for a kitchen appliance in my house. I love the simplicity of using it – it looks a bit of a beast, but it really is easy to use and has a multitude of handy functions. You can choose whether to use the pressure cooker function, or the slow cooker function, or a combination of both, and there’s even a very handy risotto and soup setting, as well as a sear, sauté and reduction programme setting; basically, it saves lots of washing up by being able to use the one pan in the appliance and it WORKS too, a prerequisite I know for kitchen kit, but they aren’t always that functional.


Today’s recipe for Chicken and Pearl Barley Stew was a “chuck it all in and start the slow cooker” kind of recipe, BUT, you could also have cooked this on the pressure cooker setting, as well as using the sear and sauté function to brown the chicken pieces first. It’s a healthy recipe that I developed for my January diet days, and of you are following the Weight Watchers diet, then a large bowl of this will only set you back 7 Smart Points (or 9 Pro Points) and is a very low 295 calories per bowl for those on the 5:2 Fast Day Diet. The recipe is shared below, and is the PERFECT recipe for all this snowy weather we’ve been having recently. Enjoy! Karen

Chicken and Pearl Barley Stew

Chicken and Pearl Barley Stew


  • 4 skinless and boned chicken breasts (diced into 2.5cm/1)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and diced
  • 2 slender leeks, washed, trimmed and diced
  • 2 small turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 150mls red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 chicken stock cube made up to 600mls with boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 115g pearl barley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Comfort food at its best, this Chicken and Pearl Barley Stew hits the spot for wintry days, and is perfect as a mid-week family supper – plus it’s healthy too, with only 7 Smart Points in a bowl for those in the Weight Watchers diet, or 9 Pro Points.


Step 1 Slow cooker method: Place all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and set to high, cook for 6 hours or on auto for up to 10 hours.
Step 2 Pressure cooker method: Place all the ingredients into the pressure cooker and set the programme for chicken stew, if using a Fast, Slow, Pro, bring it up to pressure and cook on high for 30 minutes – or for 45 minutes if using a normal pressure cooker. Release the pressure slowly on completion.
Step 3 Stove top method: Spray a large saucepan with some low-fat oil spray and sauté the chicken pieces all over until they are golden brown. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery, leeks and turnips, add a little of the chicken stock, and sweat the vegetables for 15 minutes with the lid on the pan.
Step 4 Add the remaining ingredients, replace the lid and simmer for a further 40 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Step 5 Serve in warmed bowls with crusty bread.

Chicken and Pearl Barley Stew

The Sage Appliances Fast, Slow, Pro is £199:99 

Functions include:

Interactive LCD tells you when it’s building pressure, cooking and releasing steam
Dual sensors for accurate pressure and temperature control
Sear, saute, reduce and steam settings
Custom temperature/pressure and time
Variable pressure or high/med/low
Slow cook high/Low
Dishwasher safe removable lid
No-mess moat

Included Accessories:
Stainless steel steaming basket
Stainless steel roasting trivet


You can pressure cook, slow cook, steam, reduce, sauté and sear with the press of a button and you can rely on the fully interactive LCD to tell you when its building pressure, cooking and releasing steam.

You can make Risotto, Gravy, Soup, Stews and Pie Fillings and it also cooks Rice to perfection too.

It comes with a handy recipe book and a concise instructions manual.


I LOVE it! Ten stars for ease of use, practical cooking settings and the results, which have always been superb to date – I have made pie fillings, soups, stews and even a risotto. It’s easy to clean and the removable inner pan is a practical idea. 


I received a Sage Appliances Fast Slow Pro Multi-Cooker free for review; all views and opinions are my own and I was not asked to write a positive review.

Other reviews and recipes:

The Sage Fast Slow Pro – the gadget to have in 2016

Pressure cooker beer can chicken

Christmas & New Year Cumbrian Chimney Pot Pie


As I cooked this using the Slow Cooker function, I am adding it to Slow Cooked Challenge hosted by Janice (Farmersgirl Kitchen) and Lucy (Baking Queen 74) – the theme this month is Anything! 

The Slow Cooked Challenge