It’s winter in Wisconsin: a time of year that practically demands soups, stews, and comfort food—and lots OF them. And so, predictably, I’ve been on a comfort food bender for about the last month. This Beef and Barley Stew recipe fits the bill nicely.
Beef and Barley Stew: Time Saving Strategies
Beef and Barley Stew has become a family favorite for busy weekdays. It’s hearty, flavorful, soul-warming, and satisfying. The barley gives the broth a wonderful, creamy thickness. The best thing about the recipe, though, is that it goes into the crockpot in the morning—then it’s waiting for you, full of robust, sexy flavor, when you get home. If I’m pressed for time, I have been known to prepare the stew the night before: I finish everything through the deglazing step, and then store the wine/veggie mixture and meat + juices in the refrigerator overnight. I resume the next morning at step 5 in the recipe below.
Even more of a time savings: I always make extra beef and barley stew because it freezes REALLY well: the hubster and I recently polished off the stew that I froze 3 months ago. We can both attest that it still tastes AWESOME. The only difference? If I plan to freeze leftover beef and barley stew, I take out any remaining potatoes, since my experience with freezing potatoes has not been good.
In addition to the dried herbs, I highly recommend floating a stem or two of rosemary in the beef and barley stew. If your family objects to the needles, pull them off, chop finely, then add them WITH THE STEM (tons of flavor! Remove the stem later!).
This is an easy recipe to throw into the slow-cooker and go do what you do! Eight hours later, you come home to soul-warming awesomeness. You can do the vegetable and meat prep the night before—just keep everything in the refrigerator until go-time. Adding new potatoes amps up the heartiness of this meal even more.
- 1 c pearl barley
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup white or red wine
- 1 chuck roast, trimmed and cut into small cubes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1/3 pound small new potatoes, halved (optional)
- 8 c broth or stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp dried Italian herb mix (e.g., rosemary, parsley, oregano, basil, thyme)
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley for serving
- grated cheese for serving
Season the beef cubes generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the vegetable oil to a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the beef cubes in small batches, turning occasionally, so that at least two sides develop a deep-brown sear. Repeat until all meat has been seared, lowering heat and adding additional oil if necessary between batches; remove meat and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Saute until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaves, barley, and herbs; saute an additional 2 minutes.
Add the wine to deglaze the pan, stirring with a wooden spoon (scrape the bottom of the pan as the wine cooks down). Allow the wine to reduce by half.
Pour the mixture into a slow-cooker. Add the meat and any accumulated juices. Stir in the stock. Set slow-cooker on low and leave for 8 hours.
If you are using potatoes, add them in during the final hour of cooking (adjust slow-cooker temperature to high). Alternatively, you can steam the potatoes until tender and add them to the soup during the final 10 minutes of cooking.
Taste the soup, adjusting seasoning as necessary with S&P. Garnish with parsley and grated cheese. Enjoy!
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