Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Barley and Beef Stew

It's officially cold and wintery. Bring on the soup! We really liked this recipe from Mark Bittman. Big chunks of veggies, hearty grains, and tender beef. So good.

We're finally nearing the end of our Bald Hill beef stash. It's taken us a little over a year, and in the process we've learned a lot about different cuts of beef and how to cook them. I've tried a lot of different cuts that I might not have ever tried otherwise. We've had some great classics, such as:

Salisbury steak (made with cube steak)
Beef sirloin tip roast
Beef stroganoff (made it twice, once with beef tenderloin and again with beef sirloin)
Braised short ribs
Roast beef (to make taquitos)
Flank steak

Other cuts I didn't blog about include oxtail (braised in tomato sauce - delicious), liver (with onions and pan sauce, visually appealing but disgusting), arm roast chopped up for beef stew, and many, many steak dinners.

We also got a ton of ground beef in this order. We ended up giving some away, and we also gave a large portion to my dad which he returned to us later in jerky form (he makes awesome jerky). My favorite recipes that we made with ground beef, besides the usual burgers, include:

Phyllo-wrapped ground beef and vegetable pastries
Thai-style ground beef
Sesame-soy meatballs
Stuffed bell peppers with rice and ground beef
Frito Chili Pie - from the Pioneer Woman - a simple recipe to throw together (almost no prep because most ingredients are canned) and it's absolutely delicious. Before now I would have never thought to put Fritos on chili. It's definitely going to become a staple recipe in our house I think. We've already made it twice in the last month.

We have a few cuts left that I haven't decided what to do with yet - London Broil and Rib Steak. Any suggestions???

CSA Week 23:

In the box: 1 lettuce, 1 bunch carrots, 1 bunch arugula, 1 basket grape tomatoes, 2 pounds sweet potatoes, 2 pounds Nicola potatoes, 1 Butternut squash, 3/4 pound Jimmy Nardelo peppers, 2 pounds Liberty apples.

We sauteed the peppers, along with some onions, and piled them on top of chicken andouille sausages from Costco. We even had hot dog buns in the freezer - bonus! I warmed them in the oven at 200 F and they tasted just like fresh ones.

Since I am house/pet-sitting for the next couple of weeks at a home on the outskirts of town (in the woods and on a mountain, no less), Joe and I split up the CSA. I took the arugula, some lettuce, grape tomatoes, half of the apples, and the other sweet potato, and gave him the rest.

I stopped over for dinner on Sunday and Joe had prepared an amazing beef stew using up the rest of the carrots and Nicola potatoes. He used the beef stew recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (if you don't have it, you should get it!). We had an huge arm roast in our beef stash so he cut that up into chunks, and saved the bone to make stock later. Note to self: arm roasts make great stew meat! Very tender and flavorful.

We still had some mascarpone leftover from when we made the tomato and tapenade tarts so I wanted to think of a way to combine that with the arugula, grape tomatoes, and maybe some pasta. I found this recipe from NPR. Basically you whisk together the mascarpone, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a little of the hot pasta water, then toss it together with hot cooked corkscrew pasta and arugula. I sliced the grape tomatoes in half and threw those in too. The hot pasta wilts the greens nicely and their peppery flavor offsets the creaminess of the sauce. Next time I would double the sauce recipe; I like my pasta very "saucy".

We seem to be hording our winter squash for now. We now have a Delicata and this new Butternut in our collection.

Barley and Beef Stew
adapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything
makes about 4 servings

Notes: Instead of barley, you could also use kasha, buckwheat grouts, millet, or cracked wheat. Instead of starting with a hunk of chuck or round, we just used a package of beef stew meat and cut it into smaller pieces.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound beef chuck or round, trimmed of surface fat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
3 cups chicken or beef stock, or water
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium potatoes, preferably waxy, peeled and cut into about 1-inch pieces
8 garlic cloves, peeled (optional - but so good I wouldn't skip them)
2 cups sliced mushrooms, preferably an assortment (I used cremini and shiitake), OR 1 cup sliced button mushrooms and 1/2 cup dried porcini or other dried mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water to cover (but mushrooms in general are optional here)
1/3 cup pearl barley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Chopped parsley or celery leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, add the beef, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add the onion, cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the stock (if you used dried mushrooms, include their strained liquid - just reduce the amount of stock accordingly). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and slowly simmer (should barely bubble) for about 30 minutes, stirring every so often.

Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, mushrooms, barley and thyme. Bring back up to a boil, then lower the heat again, cover, and slowly simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often.

When all the vegetables are tender, the stew is done. Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish with parsley, and serve.


  1. Oh, this looks like a fabulous soup! Will add it to my list to try :)

  2. ox tail stew is so amazing and this Barley and Beef Stew look so good on a cold day! So I am curious who you do your CSA through. Is it the Heavenly Harvest one, or is there another locally?

  3. Robin - This year we are doing our CSA through Denison Farms. Our first year, we did Heavenly Harvest. Our second year, we split with another family with Gathering Together Farm. This year, I wanted to try Denison's. One nice thing about GTF and Denison's is that they had pick-up locations close to our house which was nice. We have enjoyed each CSA that we have done.

  4. The stew looks so warming, hearty and tasty!

  5. Just made this last week. Family and I LOVED it. Used a round roast, so not a frugal meal to prepare, but for a hearty winter soup it is absolutely worth the occasional splurge on good beef.


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