Poached Eggs and Aioli, Chicken and Orange Barley.

I really like a good book that makes me hungry. Sawyer recently read the Hunger Games, as it is coming out soon, so I reread it. I did like the first book, was less impressed as the series went on, but despite it being geared towards teenagers and having some flaws, it was an entertaining read. And it was definitely conducive to snacking.

This dinner was lightly inspired by the meal the main character eats when talking to her stylist for the first time. Something about pearl-like grains, oranges and chicken in a cream sauce. Since this was a meal I made on a weeknight from whatever was kicking around in my fridge, I didn’t have any milk so steered clear of a creamy base, focusing more on the citrus, and adding some vegetables I had.

I heated up olive oil in a pot with minced garlic and then added 1 cup of pearl barley. After two-three minutes of stirring this around, I poured in 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock and water, and brought it to a boil, before reducing the heat and letting it simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.

In the mean time, I grated the zest of an orange, juiced half of it and cut the other half into small segment. Mixed the juice and zest with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Set the orange pieces aside in a small bowl with a generous handful of golden raisins. I sauteed asparagus with a little olive oil and black pepper, then cut it into inch long pieces.

I cut up two chicken breasts into bite size pieces and marinated it in cooking wine and Maggi seasoning, then sauteed the pieces. One the barley was tender, I mixed in the fruit, chicken and asparagus along with the oil and juice mix, and set this all aside. I felt like just the barley mix might be a little boring for a whole meal, so I did a literary stretch to keep on my book-inspired theme, since the Hunger Games hero is a poacher, why not make poached eggs?

I kept some of the asparagus whole, and laid them on plate. Mixed two tablespoons of homemade mayonnaise with salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp of paprika, and a clove of garlic mashed into a paste. Once it was thoroughly mixed, I turned a ziplock bag into a pastry bag and squeezed out lines of aioli onto the asparagus.

Bed of asparagus and paprika-garlic mayonnaise

Then I poached two eggs. It’s taken me a while to perfect this seemingly simple task. Bring a small pot of water with a splash of white vinegar to simmer–once bubbles start appearing, turn the heat on low. Crack one egg into a small bowl. Give the pot a stir with a spoon, get the water swirling around, then slowly slide the egg from the bowl into the middle of the pot. The swirling water will keep the egg white from spreading around too much. It only takes 3-4 minutes to cook the whites. Use a slotted spoon to remove the egg, then place it gently on top of the asparagus, and sprinkle on a little fresh ground pepper.

Plate the chicken and barley, and voila! A pretty easy, very impressive dinner.

Hunger Games Inspired Barley Chicken and Poached Egg


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