Friday, December 3, 2010

Beef Barley Stew

This is an absolute classic--perfect for winter weather. Like most stew recipes, it can be adapted according to your ingredients. I think it pays to be methodical in your approach, but you can also throw everything in the crockpot the night before and still get much of the deliciousness. I prefer to use an enameled pot in a slow oven, because my malevolent crockpot burns things.



Preheat oven to 300.

3 lb. chuck roast, cut into 1" chunks
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 medium celeriac root, diced
1 c. small button mushrooms
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
2 bay leaves
fat for frying
1-1.5 quart water and/or broth
1/2 c. wine
1/2 c. pearled barley
parsley, chopped (optional)
salt to taste

Pat the meat pieces dry and place them in a bowl. Toss them with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat the fat in a dutch oven until very hot (I like to use a combination of bacon fat and cooking oil). Fry the meat in batches, turning the pieces so that the edges brown and crisp, and remove them to a bowl.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the remaining fat. Stir them and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen the brown bits from frying. Add the celeriac and carrots and continue stirring and scraping.

Add the flour to the pot and stir to coat the vegetables. Allow it to brown and sizzle slightly. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat again. Stir in the mushrooms, thyme, and rosemary.

Add the broth or water, the wine, and the bay leaves. Usually red wine is recommended, but I think white works well. Bring to a boil, making sure to scrape any remaining bits off the bottom of the pot. Once it comes to a boil, put the lid on and place it in the oven. Allow ~3 hours for the stew to cook.

After 2 hrs. add the pearled barley. The stew is finished when the meat is fall-apart tender. Adjust the salt to taste and chopped parsley. I found that as I stirred it the celeriac and barley broke down enough to thicken the soup nicely.

The soup can be kept warm until dinnertime by reducing the oven to 225.

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