This beef stew recipe is a throwback to my youth. I remember falling in love with barley as a kid. I used to pick pick those chewy little nuggets out of my canned beef vegetable soup and savor each one individually. Barley was not a popular grain in my area when I was growing up, and it took years for me to figure out what those delicious little nuggets were. Barley is an excellent stretcher for soups and stews. It’s filling and naturally thickens the broth as it cooks. Take a walk down memory lane and give this hearty comfort food a try.
Barley Beef Stew Recipe
1 (2-1/2 to 3 pounds pounds) beef shoulder roast, chuck roast, or 7-bone roast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup (about) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups beef broth (see Notes)
1 can (14 ounces) petite diced tomatoes, with juice
1 medium sweet onion, cut into thin wedges
1 packet powdered au jus mix, unprepared
1 bay leaf, broken in half
1/2 cup dried pearl barley
2 large red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 cup frozen baby sweet peas
Artisan bread, optional
Cut the beef roast into 1-inch chunks. Sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. Dredge in flour, shaking off any excess.
Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Sear the floured beef until browned. (Do this in batches so the meat browns instead of boils.) When all of the beef has been browned and removed to a bowl, add the red wine to the pot. Boil until the wine has reduced by half, scraping up any browned bits. Add the beef broth, tomatoes, onions, au jus mix, and bay leaf. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
Return the meat to the pot, along with any accumulated juices, and stir in the barley. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender.
Add the potatoes and carrots. Cover and continue to simmer until vegetables and beef are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the sweet peas and heat an additional 2 minutes until peas are heated through. Fish out the bay leaves and discard. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.
Serve barley beef stew with artisan bread, if desired.
Yield: 8 servings
• If you cannot use wine, skip that ingredient and step altogether. The stew won’t be quite as rich, but it will still be wonderful.
• Barley takes a long time to cook. As it cooks, it will naturally thicken the stew.
• Frozen vegetable mix or your favorite frozen green veggies may be substituted for the peas and carrots. Add after the potatoes are tender to preserve texture and color. Leftover vegetables may also be used. I sometimes add frozen corn.
• Red waxy potatoes are used because they hold their shape and won’t disintegrate easily into the stew. You may substitute Yukon Golds or waxy fingerling potatoes.
• I don’t peel my potatoes. I like the added color, nutrition, and fiber of the skins. Peel them if you prefer.
• I use bouillon cubes, powder, or paste to make my broth to save money.