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'.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

And lest you think I invented the name Quartus...

...I will have you know that it is an old family name on my father's side. Meet my great-great-grandfather, Quartus Morgan:

First Myoglobin

We made our first dish with Quartus! (This is our name for Cow Over Four.)

I won't pretend this is more than it is. It's a pizza, made with ground chuck.

Look, it's Thursday, it's been a long week, and we're tired, cut us some slack.

We got sauce and a crust from Whole Foods (their cornmeal crusts are pretty tasty), browned the beef with pizza seasoning, and buried it with some peas under mozarella and 3-cheese mix.

This is actually one of our favorite dishes, though. We figured we'd start things off right.


So, we bought a cow.

Actually, we bought one fourth of a cow. It came disassembled.

We don't quite know what this blog will be for, but we figured it would be interesting to keep a record of the things we made with our fourth of a cow. Expect pictures, menus, recipes, and reports. And, frankly, probably some photos of cats.

This was a 100% pasture-raised cow from Full of Life Farm. They are, in a word, awesome.

We'll see how this goes. If all goes well, this blog might achieve a meaty-oric rise. If not, we'll surely get our cow-muppance.

Those will be the only puns in this blog. I promise.