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Beef Barley Stew

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Beef Barley Stew

Beef Barley Stew

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Beef Stew with Barley is an American classic, surviving in the annals of comfort food as an easy, frugal dish that's delicious and nourishing. This recipe provides a complete meal and is delicious the next day. It takes only minutes to assemble, and while it cooks the aroma will whet everyone's appetite.

Yield: Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound well-trimmed boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced (2 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots, thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 ribs celery, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 1/4 cups beef broth
  • 1 can (8 ounces) whole tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup uncooked pearl barley

Preparation:

1. In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch-oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned on at least 2 sides, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate.

2. Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pot drippings. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until beginning to soften.

3. Add the broth, tomatoes with their juice, chili powder, thyme, and salt. Stir to break up the tomatoes and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot.

4. Bring to a boil. Return the beef and its juices to the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 1/4 hours, stirring once or twice.

5. Stir in the barley. Cover and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring once or twice and adding more water as needed, or until the meat and barley are tender. Serve warm.

Kitchen Notes

• If possible, buy your meat from a butcher or cut-it up yourself instead of the buying the supermarket packages of stew meat so you can have control over how the meat is cut. What supermarkets packages as stew meat is usually not the freshest and too small and irregular shaped, so when cooked the pieces may shrivel to odd-size bits.

• The meat will brown better if you first blot off any moisture on the surface with a paper towel.

• Use homemade stock if you can, but if not, choose a low-sodium good-quality packaged broth.

• Stews should be cooked a barley a simmer, so that a bubble breaks the surface about every 3 seconds.

• Browning the meat and long simmering will concentrated the flavors and color, producing a complex taste.

• When browning the meat, cook only several pieces of meat at a time. If the meat is added too quickly, it will cool the pot, release too much liquid and never brown.

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