I came across Chef Michael Smith’s recipe for Crock Pot Chicken Barley and Leeks and thought it would be the perfect recipe to test out the Instant Pot’s Slow Cooker function. It was also a good way to get some nourishing, homemade chicken broth into me because I had come down with a cold and I had no appetite whatsoever. So I took the time to brown the pieces of chicken until golden on all sides, and then tossed everything the recipe called for into the pot and turned the slow cooking on for 6 hours. And that’s when I discovered that perhaps the magical Instant Pot wasn’t so magical after all.
After a few hours on slow cook, nothing in the pot was boiling, let alone simmering. An hour later, everything was just sitting there quietly. I don’t know how I lasted 6 hours later (very irritably, is how, because I had to open that lid multiple times) but I like to have faith before giving up. Clearly, it was a waste of time because there wasn’t even a bubble when I lifted the lid at the bloody 6-hour mark. So at this point, I’m kind of hating the Instant Pot. Not hating it entirely but the magic was fading.
I still had dinner to make so I hit the poultry function, adjusted the pressure to high and I had a delicious pot of creamy barley, leeks and chicken reminiscent of chicken congee 15 minutes later. In fact, it almost tasted just like it. Warm, comforting, chickeny with just enough flavour for me to taste through my shot tastebuds from my cold. I added sliced white button mushrooms to the pot then turned on the sauté function just to cook the mushrooms through. Next time, I’m definitely adding peas as well.
I don’t even know why I would bother with the slow cooker function now. There’s just no point when you can cook it in a flash in the pressure cooker function and then leave it to keep warm until dinner time. But it does bother me that this device has a function that doesn’t work so I’m determined to figure out what went wrong. At least the Instant Pot still fixed the problem. In 15 minutes, no less. Which is how long it would take if you just did it this way instead of the way I did. 15 minutes for this comforting dish is pretty darn amazing.
Check out my Instant Pot Chinese Steamed Black Cod post as well because that was a huge success. Done in 2 minutes!
What you need:
8 pcs. chicken thighs, bone and skin on
1 cup all-purpose flour (or cornstarch) for dredging
4-6 cups homemade chicken broth (homemade makes all the difference)
4 large leeks (white and light green part only) trimmed, cut in half then sliced lengthwise
leaves from 10-12 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup barley
Salt and pepper
2-3 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves, minced
A few splashes of oil
10 mushroom of any kind, sliced
What to do:
1. Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.
2. Season flour or cornstarch and dredge chicken into flour until completely covered. Shake off excess.
3. Press the sauté button. Once hot, pour some olive oil into the pot. Once the oil is hot add the chicken skin down and fry until golden brown. Flip and do the same with the other side. Remove the chicken and set aside.
4. Pour white wine into the pot to deglaze while scraping up anything that might be stuck to the pot. Press the off button to stop thesauté function.
5. Add the barley and spread in a layer.
6. Add leeks neatly on top.
7. Pour in the chicken broth.
8. Add the chicken. You want enough chicken broth to just cover the chicken so add more if you need to. Press poultry and it should say 15 minutes. If it doesn’t, adjust the time to 15. Set pressure to high.
9. Once you’ve released the pressure and opened the valve, change the function to sauté and add the diced mushroom and peas (if using). Stir just until the mushrooms are cooked through.
10. Fish out the bay leaves and stir in the fresh thyme.