Slow-cooked Quince Chicken & Barley

Slow-cooked Quince, Chicken and Pearl Barley | she cooks, she gardens

Quince, up until recently, were a bit of a mystery to me. They were not a food that had featured at all in my childhood and as I got older I saw them on the stands at markets but had no idea what to do with them. The day Iย tried a simple dish of slow-poached quince with vanilla ice cream a few years ago all of that changed. Their perfumed aroma is like nothing else. A member of the rose family, the humble quince is a close relative to apples and pears, which is why it makes sense to pair them in meals together, and approach them in a similar way.

Quince | she cooks, she gardens

I was recently given a bag of quinces to play with and after the usual slow poaching with sugar and spices, I wondered how these flavours would go in a rich, meaty dish designed to warm from the inside out. I scoured recipes and started to think about Hunter’s Chicken aka Chicken Cacciatore and how, after a few hours in the oven, the meat became beautifully tender and flavoured by the accompanying vegetables and spices.

Slow-cooked Quince, Chicken and Pearl Barley | she cooks, she gardens

I set to work and was pleasantly surprised when this landed on the table a few hours later. The quince is subtle enough to add a particular richness to the dish, without overpowering. It’s not a ‘sweet’ dish by any stretch of the imagination, so if you’re inclined to turn your nose up at the prospect of fruit in a dish such as this I urge you to reconsider. The decision to throw some pearl barley in at the last moment was a stroke of genius and made for a truly one pot meal. The result is a rich, deeply satisfying dish that you can reheat and heat for a couple of days after.

Slow-cooked Quince Chicken & Barley
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A warming autumn dish of slow-cooked quince, chicken and barley.
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 8 serves
  • 1 large (or 2 small) quince. Peeled and centres removed.
  • 1 kilo chicken pieces - ie. whole chicken cut into pieces
  • 1 tbspn flour
  • ½ tspn granulated garlic
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tbspns rice bran oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tbspns pine nuts
  • 1 tbspn honey
  • 1 tbspn butter
  • 1 tspn ground cumin
  • 1 tspn ground ginger
  • 1 generous pinch of white pepper
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1 slice of preserved lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 generous glass of dry white wine
  • a large pinch of saffron, soaked in a ½ cup of warm water
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • ¾ cup pearl barley
  • a handful of black olives, roughly chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Heat oven to 160 degrees centigrade.
  2. Cut quinces into wedges and steam over a saucepan of simmering water until tender (about 20 minutes).
  3. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix flour, garlic and salt.
  5. Coat chicken in flour.
  6. Heat 1 tbspn of oil in a large ovenproof pan with lid (dutch oven).
  7. Fry chicken gently over low-medium heat in batches, browning each side for a few minutes.
  8. Transfer to a plate.
  9. Add another tbspn of oil, then add the onion and fry for a couple of minutes until tender and starting to brown.
  10. Add the pine nuts and cook until starting to brown.
  11. Remove from pan and set aside.
  12. Melt the butter and then add the honey.
  13. Cook for a minute or so until starting to caramelise, stirring the whole time.
  14. Add quince and cook, turning every couple of minutes, until golden.
  15. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  16. Add spices and cook for a minute until fragrant.
  17. Add the onion mix back to the pan and stir well to reheat.
  18. Add a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan, followed by the rest of the glass.
  19. Add the chicken back to the pot along with the saffron (and soaking liquid) and stock.
  20. Mix gently to ensure everything is covered in the liquid.
  21. Bring a boil and put the lid on.
  22. Cook in the oven for at least 90 minutes.
  23. After 90 minutes remove pot from the oven and add the quince and pearl barley.
  24. Stir well to incorporate everything, ensuring the barley is covered.
  25. Put back in the oven for at least 30-45 minutes, or until the barley is cooked to your liking.
  26. Check for seasoning and adjust to your liking.
  27. To serve, add roughly chopped black olives and fresh parsley.
Slow-cooked Quince, Chicken and Pearl Barley | she cooks, she gardens


  • Hannah says:

    This looks so yummy. A great meal as the months start to get a bit colder. I will definitely be trying this out this winter! Thanks for the recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  • thehungrymum says:

    I have only ever had quince as paste – which I consume kilos of with cheese ๐Ÿ˜‰ This looks like a perfect meal for this cool weather.

    • Erin B says:

      I was much like you too, hungry mum! It’s a pretty decent way to enjoy quince, for sure. I’d love to hear what you think if decide you give this recipe a shot.

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