Watch Neven's Christmas Menu on Thursday at 7.30pm on RTÉ One.


Serves 4-6

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 15g (½ oz) butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 large carrots, diced
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 400g (14oz) pearl barley
  • 1.5 litres (2½ pints) hot chicken stock (from a cube is fine)
  • 1 heaped tbsp Dijon mustard, plus extra to serve
  • 1 Savoy cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 200g (7oz) cooked lean bacon joint or ham, chopped into small pieces
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat a large pan over a medium heat. Add the oil and butter, then add the onion, carrots, leeks and celery and saut. for 6–8 minutes, until softened.
  2. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook for another 2–3 minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Stir in the pearl barley and cook for 1 minute, until well combined.
  4. Pour in the hot stock, add the mustard and season to taste with a little salt and plenty of pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the cabbage and the bacon or ham and cook for another 5 minutes, until the cabbage is wilted and tender and the bacon is nicely warmed through.
  6. Divide between plates and serve with a dollop of mustard on the side if liked.