Sunday, January 29, 2012

Beef & Barley Stew

I love beef stew. The only thing I love more than beef stew is beef & barley stew. It will therefore not surprise you, dear reader, to learn that our second Quartus dish was the aforementioned comestible.

I picked up the base for this recipe on the Intertubes somewhere, but I was unhappy with it. I've refined it to suit my (and, through a convenient congruity, Aimee's) tastes. I like my stews to be umami bombs, relatively thick, and hearty enough for a Dragonborn (fus ro dah!) This recipe does not disappoint, and is extraordinarily toothsome, and very satisfying.

We don't generally intend to attribute Cow Over Four recipes to me or Aimee, but for this one I make an exception. This recipe is mine. All mine! BWAHAHAHAHA! Tonight, Aimee referred to me as her "stewfriend" on the merits of this dish.

So, with that unambiguous endorsement, here's the recipe. Fear not, once you cut everything up, this is the easiest shit in the world to make.
  • 1.5 pounds (or as much as you dare!) stew beef, cubed
  • some olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 2 cups minced shiitake mushrooms (pro-tip: throw them into a small food processor & mince)
  • 3 cloves (or as much as you dare!) garlic, minced
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1.5 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock (or, in a pinch, beef bullion)
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • thyme to taste
  • oregano to taste
  • savory to taste
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
(Note: "to taste" should be read as "as much as you can stand, what are you some kind of wuss?")
  1. Mince the garlic, and start it over medium-high heat in the olive oil, in a dutch oven
  2. Add the beef and brown in the dutch oven
  3. Add the sliced veggies, and saute for 5 - 10 minutes
  4. Add the liquids and spices, reduce heat to low/med-low, and simmer covered for 60 minutes
  5. Add the pearl barley and simmer covered for 45 more minutes, or until barley is tender. Add water as necessary to get the barley good and cooked.
The core ingredients (gods, I love the Mountain View farmers market):

Browning the Full of Life Farm stew beef:

Once you add the veggies, boy howdy does this start to look like something tasty. At this point, the umami was actually creeping into the smell, I swear to gods:

....and the finished product, replete with perfectly-cooked barley:

This stew is so awesome, it doesn't even matter that my photography sucks.

It's worth noting that this recipe isn't going to work terribly well without a decent dutch oven. By the way, this cast-iron dutch oven was my second best cooking buy ever; the first was of course my straight up cast iron frying pan (which has never tasted soap, or even water.) But I digress.

One more, for the road:

Just sayin'.

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