When you get a craving - especially if it's for beef and barley stew when snow clouds are building outside - it's best to just give in and make it. Stew is more of a technique than a recipe, so we just gathered our ingredients and jumped right into the kitchen. By late afternoon, we had one mouthwatering pot of stew bubbling on our stove!
Since we didn't follow any particular recipe for this stew, feel free to modify it as you see fit. You can use less or more of any of the ingredients, or add different ones that you think will work. Follow the basic steps outlined in this post on How to Make Stew, and you'll be all set.
Beef and Barley Stew with Mushrooms
Makes 6-8 servings
2-3 pound chuck or round beef roast, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, diced
8-10 ounces mushrooms (1 package)
3 celery stalks, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup barley
salt and pepper
Film the bottom of a large dutch oven with canola oil and set over medium-high heat until the oil is hot. Working in batches, add a single layer of meat to the bottom of the pan. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes until the cubes loosen and are seared golden-brown. Flip the cubes and sear the other sides. When all sides are seared, remove the meat to a clean bowl or plate. Sear the remaining meat in batches. If there is any liquid in the pot after the last batch is finished, pour it over the meat.
Heat one teaspoon of canola oil in the pan and cook the onions with a pinch of salt until they are translucent and brown around the edges. Add the mushrooms and another pinch of salt, and cook until they have released all the moisture and have turned golden-brown. Add the celery and cook until just softened.
Clear a space in the middle of the vegetables and sauté the garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the thyme and bay leaf, and stir all the seasonings into the veggies.
Pour the wine into the pan to deglaze, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as the wine bubbles. Let the wine reduce down until most of it has evaporated or been absorbed by the veggies.
Add the meat and any drippings back to the pot. Pour in the stocks and top with enough water to cover the meat and veggies about about a half an inch. Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low.
Cover the pot and let it simmer for 1 hour. Add the barley and cook for another 45 minutes or so until the barley is cooked and the meat is almost falling apart (check by piercing it with a fork or knife. There should be no resistance and the meat should flake apart with pressure). Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as desired.
Serve in individual bowls with a crust piece of bread to mop up the broth. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for one week.
(Image: Emma Christensen)